The EF Education-Tibco-SVB team went from having to live on a small budget to participating in WorldTour.
The American-registered team began as a passionate project of Canadian former racer Linda Jackson, who created it 17 years ago. Throughout its existence, the team has proven a stable springboard for North American talent at the highest levels of cycling.
When the UCI launched the WorldTeam women’s team license in 2020, Jackson began dreaming that her team could one day join her. In July 2021, the team announced that it would finally apply for revitalization.
Although they have been negotiating since 2020, funding from EF Education has not yet been determined. However, Jackson was determined, and her team was one of five teams to receive a WorldTeam license for 2022.
“I was going to go one way or another. I could go with Tibco and SVB and we would be a much smaller band for a world tour. It would be a WorldTour on the line, ”Jackson said VeloNews. “I was tired of being on top, but I was going to go one way or the other because I was determined.
“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, it’s really my child. This is why I have dedicated most of my life, and the right partner is really important. It was important for the partner to appreciate that this is my team, and shared the same vision of women’s equality as EF. They are very strong about women’s equality. “
Jackson and her group of determined employees were willing to participate in the WorldTour on a small budget, but the addition of EF Education to Tibco and Silicon Valley Bank as co-sponsors dramatically changed the situation for the team.
Over the winter, she increased the staff six times and was able to compare the salaries of riders with the minimum for men WorldTour. In the past, some of its riders have supported part-time work along with their racing careers, but in 2022 that all changed.
“Introducing EF to the lineup has just given us a much better budget, which has allowed us to do much more for our riders,” she said. “We have a proper budget, we can hire all the necessary staff for the riders. We can bring in a nutritionist, all these details that are in the best teams we can now provide.
“It was very important for EF to pay riders the minimum wage for men in terms of equality for women. It’s one thing to be a WorldTour, but paying your riders a female minimum compared to a male one is a big difference for riders.
“All of our riders pay very well and they can focus on being the best and not worry about having to work a second job in the winter to make ends meet. Until this year, some riders had to work part-time in the winter. Now they can all focus on being better than they can be. ”
Jackson’s team is one of five well-known teams that compare the salaries of riders with the minimum figures in the men’s WorldTour, and Trek-Segafredo, BikeExchange-Jayco, Roland Cogeas Edelweiss and UAE Team Emirates confirm that they are doing the same.
At that time, the minimum wage for men at WorldTour was almost twice as much as was offered for the women’s peloton. This year, the gap has narrowed significantly with the new minimum set at 27,000 euros, but there is still a big difference in the minimums set by the UCI.
Although her team has been able to pay well above the lower limit, Jackson believes the current one set by the governing body is pretty good at the moment. She also believes that the opportunities offered by the Tour de France Femmes this season will help increase team budgets and salaries.
“I don’t think the UCI is lagging behind, I think they need to be careful how far they push,” Jackson said. VeloNews. “We need to see success from a commercial standpoint to move much further, and I think this year it looks like the Women’s Tour de France. I think this is a big step towards women’s equality. It’s something I can’t believe we’ve been without for 30 years, but the fact that he’s here now, really means a turning point in women’s cycling and his success.
“I think it will allow teams to give more to their athletes, and maybe they will be able to talk about further mandatory promotions. If you look at how many teams applied for licenses last year, there were a total of 15 available, but there are only 14 teams. So the World Tour licenses weren’t admired because it reflects the money that is now in the sport.
“I am proud that we are a World Tour, but I think now that the UCI has brought us to the limit. If there were additional mandatory pressures on wages and other things, I’m not sure we’re ready. I think we will be in a few years, but we have a good place where we are now. “
The team with its bright new pink kit debuted in the race at Setmana Ciclista Volta Comunitat Valenciana last week, and Veronica Evers took 12th place overall. This weekend he is racing in Belgium before performing next week in his first WorldTour race at Strade Bianca.
With some big changes over the winter and a few new riders, Jackson is looking forward to more success in the long run. She wants her team to gain top-notch racing experience, and we hope the extra cash flow will help her retain more better riders than she could have done in the past.
“I’ve hired a lot of athletes with potential,” she said. “Some of them are definitely the future of the sport, but I don’t expect real results this year. In other words, I don’t want to put pressure on the riders to get results this year. We have always worked well to find diamonds in processing and this is our strength.
“We will continue to do so, but now we have the infrastructure and budget to keep these riders. Over the years, we have lost so many talented women when they grew up and left our team. This should not happen again. The best team in the world will always attract people and you will not be able to prevent it. Now we have the support we can give these girls not only to start but also to reach the top of the sport in our team ”.