When it comes to sponsorship, there are few cycling teams more deserving than Le Col Wahoo (formerly Drops Le Col s/b Tempur). Since their inception in 2016, the British outfit has been a fan favourite, be it because of gutsy attacks in big races, stylish kit designs or colourful personalities at the team’s core. After facing the risk of folding at the end of the 2018 season, they came back from the brink thanks to the sponsorship of cycling apparel brand Le Col, and have gone from strength to strength ever since, nourishing some of the very brightest talent in female cycling.
Such a striking team identity and fighting spirit has most recently attracted the attention of ever-growing cycling tech company Wahoo, who today announced it will be joining Le Col as a title sponsor of the UCI women’s team in 2022. Though the American firm has become a household name in the cycling world in recent years, this will be its first headline sponsorship of a professional cycling team, highlighting the Wahoo's commitment to invest in the development of women’s sport.
“Women’s racing provides some of the most exciting bike racing for viewers and it deserves a much bigger platform to exhibit the riders talents and skills. We aim to aid the team in qualifying for the Tour de France Femmes in 2022 and share their ambition of becoming a World Tour team in 2023. Together we can bring women’s cycling to a larger audience and inspire new generations of female cyclists,” explained Wahoo CEO Mike Saturnia.
The newly named Le Col Wahoo team have been punching above their weight for multiple years, never afraid to rub shoulders with the bigger teams and make their presence known in the most famous races on the calendar. 2021 was no exception, with standout performances coming from British rider Joscelin Lowden. The 34-year-old broke the Hour Record last year and won the notoriously difficult Tour de Feminin in July. She will move on to WorldTour team Uno-X in 2022, thanks to years of careful development riding for Drops.
In 2022, as Le Col Wahoo, we can only expect to see more success from the British team. They have retained some promising talent including the likes of Maria Martins (U23 European Omnium Champion) and Marjolein Van 't Geloof who finished 5th in Le Samyn des Dames in 2021 and secured a top 15 in the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Strong signings like ex-Movistar rider Eider Merino and former Belgian champion Jesse Vandenbulke have also bolstered the team’s roster.
When speaking to Rouleur at the end of last year, team manager Tom Varney made his ambitions clear: “We want to be the best team in the world,” he said. “It seems like such a big thing to say. But we're deadly serious when we say that.”
It’s with investment from the big companies in the cycling world that the Le Col Wahoo team will reach their lofty ambitions. Le Col announced last year that it would be trebling its investment in the British squad, with the brand’s founder, Yanto Barker, recently explaining that the partnership will be reaching a new level in its fourth year.
“For 2022 we are taking our partnership and support of the team to the next level,” he said. “We have been developing some of the most advanced cycling kit possible and, with the help of key riders in the team, ensured that this technology enables our riders to ride faster and further. Together with Wahoo we will aim to ensure our backing not only supports the team, but inspires the cycling community and encourages more women to race bikes.”
With two sponsors who are leaders in their respective fields, this plucky British team seems to have all the right ingredients to develop into one of the biggest names in the women’s peloton. Le Col and Wahoo's decision to invest long term in to the team – who have both committed to the partnership until 2024 – only further highlights the return that women’s cycling can offer to brands who give it a platform.
As for the riders, sponsor investment in their clothing and equipment is only going to optimise their performances in 2022, and we are certainly expecting to see those fetching blue and pink jerseys at the front of plenty of bike races in the upcoming season.