Ever since they were founded in 2019 by Justin and Cory Williams, L39ION of Los Angeles has been making waves in the cycling world. From dominating the US Criterium scene to holding their own event with one of the richest prize pots in the history of the sport last year, they’ve never been afraid to create the change that they want to see. Such a pioneering team needs an eye-catching jersey to match, and L39ION kit sponsor, Rapha, has pulled out the stops again for 2022.
The design of the jersey is inspired by photos of nocturnal crit races, with traces of colourful light adorning a plain black background. It’s a kit unlike any seen before, a perfect fit for the team that lives by the motto: “always lead, never follow.” The traces of light are distorted in shape, with Rapha explaining that this represents the team’s aim to warp people’s perceptions of the sport. L39ION have always been passionate about diversifying cycling culture and shaking up some of its tired traditions.
Team manager Justin Williams explained: “I’m thrilled that we could use this jersey to celebrate the thing we love most about bike racing: chaotic straightways, fast corners, and even faster sprints.”
The trademark Rapha band on the arm of the jersey strongly identifies the kit with the British apparel brand who has supported the ambitious racers at L39ION since the team’s inception. Plain black shorts accompany the striking design, keeping things simple and directing focus to the electrifying pattern that dons the lower part of the jersey. It’s a different look to the team’s 2021 outfit, which featured a blue and orange pattern, but the L39ION emblem makes the kit distinguishable and in-keeping with older iterations of the team jersey.
L39ION of Los Angeles will hope that this new look will help them continue on their upward trajectory in 2022. Last season, both the team’s mens and womens contingents had huge success on the US crit scene, with Skylar Schneider taking 21 wins in 37 race days last year. Justin Williams took an emphatic victory at the team’s own event, ‘Into the Lion's Den’, beating pro US criterium champion Luke Lamperti in a fierce bunch kick to the line.
They’ve bolstered their roster in 2022 by signing winner of the inaugural UCI Track Champions League and Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Gavin Hoover, who has big aims on the road alongside his track cycling in the coming year. Hoover’s fiery acceleration on the velodrome will certainly be an asset in criteriums, and he will be a great addition to the, already dominating, L39ION lead out train.
Shayna Powless is another rider who has been added to the team for 2022, a versatile talent that has big aims on the road, track and in the gravel scene. In 2021, Powless finished in the top 5 at Unbound Gravel, showing her impressive endurance and mental fortitude. Since then, she has been seen training on the track with the US National Team, broadening her diverse skillset. Keeping it in the family, Samantha Schneider joined her sister Skylar at L39ION late last season and she will continue to race for the team for the coming year.
Aside from race results, however, L39ION is a team passionate about getting more kids excited about bikes from a range of different backgrounds, ensuring that people of colour, especially, feel like the sport is a safe space for them. Speaking to Rouleur last year, Justin Williams explained: “For a crazy amount of reasons, I think the world would be a better place if more people rode bikes and we want to be kind of a catalyst. More kids, more people of colour involved.”
The team’s unique 2022 kit will be available to purchase on Rapha.cc with a portion of the profits being reinvested back into the team to fund their development and help them continue to improve the racing community in the United States and beyond.