Golden, Colorado – April 23, 2015 – A composite team wearing Amy D. Foundation kits will start the 2015 Tour of the Gila, allowing more women to participate in the event that activated Amy Dombroski’s road racing career. Four-time overall Gila winner Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda) headlines the six-woman squad at the American stage race based in Silver City, New Mexico. The event runs from April 29th to May 3rd.
“This is an opportunity to open up new doors in terms of the impact the Amy D. Foundation can have on women’s cycling,” says Dan Dombroski.
Dan Dombroski launched the philanthropic organization with Nicole Novembre in memory of his sister, professional cyclist Amy Dombroski, after she died in an October, 2013 accident at age twenty-six. In its first year the foundation supported young women cyclocross riders.
With the Gila composite team, the foundation takes a giant step toward its vision of fostering the progression of developing female riders across multiple cycling disciplines.
“To put together this sort of program in our second year of existence is really exciting,” says Dan Dombroski. “That’s much sooner than we initially thought the organization would be able to get into road cycling in a comprehensive way.”
For Abbott, who recently won Redlands Bicycle Classic on a composite team, racing in an Amy D. Foundation kit is personally meaningful.
“Amy was a good friend of mine and inspired me in my cycling career with the attitude and determination she brought to her racing. I often wished to emulate Amy in my moments of struggle. Amy was a special person to me, and the work that Dan [Dombroski] and Nicole [Novembre] have done in the name of her legacy is also awe-inspiring,” Abbott notes.
“To be able to represent the spirit of such a wonderful person and ride for an organization that brings opportunity to others in a genuine way is an incredible honor.”
Abbott will lead a talented group of veteran and developing riders. The roster includes Americans Kathryn Donovan (Colavita/Bianchi), Amanda Miller (Pepper Palace p/b The Happy Tooth), Julie Emmerman (Rally Sport) and Annie Toth (Groove Subaru-Excel Sports) together with Norwegian Janicke Gunvaldsen (Hitec Products). Donovan raced alongside Amy Dombroski in the 2012 edition of the Gila.
Growing opportunities for women
With a composite team the Amy D. Foundation brings six women to the start line that might not otherwise race the Gila because they don’t belong to a team entering the race. This year’s team requirement is due to first-time UCI designation for the women’s competition. In previous years a rider could register individually.
“The Gila has always been sensitive to the fact that going UCI would leave some individual riders out,” says Michael Engleman, a women’s cycling advocate who builds composite teams through Mission Sports Group. “Many races make efforts to find athletes guest rides, but as far as I know the Gila may be the only UCI women’s race that has formed a composite team so women don’t get left out.” Engleman is managing the Amy D. Foundation team at the Gila.
“Until there’s more women’s teams and teams with budgets to hire more riders and attend more races,” notes Engleman, “the only way for many athletes to advance is composite teams, and guest riding.” Composite teams have launched the careers of many highly successful women in the sport, such as Abbott and Amy Dombroski.
Typically these squads exist for a single competition. The Amy D. Foundation intends to replicate the format developed for the Gila at future events to assist more women and add stability to the composite team model.
According to Engleman, the idea for the Amy D. Foundation composite team originated from the angel sponsor who rescued the race with financial support in March after a title sponsor withdrew funding. The Gila race organization also raised money with crowd funding; the Amy D. Foundation and another organization will each receive ten percent of the proceeds.
“An incredible community has helped the Gila continue and is also supporting the Amy D. Foundation and giving opportunities to new riders,” says Dan Dombroski. “That’s an amazing result and shows how the cycling community can help create a robust future for women in the sport.”
For the foundation, the Tour of the Gila is an ideal place to start its road racing initiative.
“A month or two after Amy first decided to start racing her bike, we went to the Tour of the Gila together,” Dan Dombroski recalls. At that time in 2006 Amy Dombroski was 18 years-old and a category 4 rider at her first of five outings at the Silver City challenge.
“We went there with one other friend, packed in a small car, and slept in tents. It was the first big race she ever did and her first stage race. So it’s very meaningful that we should start with the Gila.”
About Tour of the Gila
Taking place in and around Silver City, New Mexico, “The Gila” consists of three road race stages, an individual time trial, and a criterium. The iconic “Gila Monster” road race final stage consists of over 9,000 feet of climbing for the men and over 5,500 feet for the women. For more information visit the event’s website at http://www.tourofthegila.com/.
Photo caption: Amy Dombroski races the 2012 edition of the Tour of the Gila.
Photo credit: Lyne Lamoureux