The Amy D. Foundation is excited to announce the details of its 2018-2019 Amy D. Foundation Elite Cyclocross Team.
Amy D. Foundation is a nonprofit organization created in honor of Amy Alison Dombroski, who passed tragically at age 26 while training abroad in Belgium. She was a versatile cyclist with U23 National Championship titles in road, mountain, and cyclocross. In the final blog post Amy wrote, she recognized and voiced that “Inequality is something female cyclists continue to be faced with.” The goal of the foundation is to address this inequity by supporting female riders.
As Amy’s legacy, the foundation encourages and supports young women through cycling, inspiring the celebration of healthy challenge and empowering the confident pursuit of lofty dreams. Aligning with this mission, the Amy D. Cyclocross elite team is a developmental cycling program that provides support for driven, talented women who strive to reach the highest level of competition within the sport. Its riders are provided with equipment, mechanical and logistical support and mentorship to better their chances of making the jump from elite to professional.
Riders are selected to the team via a nationwide, open application process, consisting of a written and interview component. Given the support provided, and the degree to which the program is a bridge to the pro ranks, being named to the team is often a dream come true for emerging riders. As this year’s newest elite rider enthused, “I am so unbelievably excited to be racing for Amy D. Foundation this cyclocross season. It has been my lifelong dream to race professionally since I was 10 years old!”
Elite Team Riders Named
The Amy D. Foundation has chosen to support two elite riders this upcoming season: Emily Shields, 25 of Advance, North Carolina and returning racer, Katherine Santos, 21 of Louisville, Kentucky.
Despite being only 25, Emily Shields is an experienced, longtime cyclocross racer. She and her twin sister, Katherine, decided to give the sport a try for the first time as 10-year olds, after watching other children compete in a cyclocross race their dad promoted. Emily started road racing shortly thereafter and added mountain biking in college.
Shields earned her bachelor’s degree at Lees-McRae College, and during her senior season, she won the 2015 Collegiate Division 1 Nationals in Austin, Texas. During graduate school at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she added a Collegiate Club National Championship to her palmarès, taking the win in Hartford, Connecticut in 2017.
Shields outstanding 2018 results include third at Hendersonville UCI C2, seventh at Jingle Cross UCI C2, third at USA Cycling Singlespeed National Championships, and 24th at USA Cycling Elite Nationals.
All along, Shields has balanced academics with bike racing, first in high school, then in undergrad, and finally en route to her Masters in Nutrition. Having finished her dietetic internship to become a registered Dietitian in May 2018, Shields plans to take a year off from school and work to race full-time. Without the obligation and “juggling act” of school, Shields is determined and focused to see what she can accomplish as an elite racer. She explains, “The Amy D. Foundation represents a unique opportunity for me to fulfill a lifelong dream of racing at the elite level with support and no other conflicting obligations such as school or work.”
Completing school and earning the Amy D. Foundation Cyclocross Elite Team slot are just two highlights in what has been a busy and exciting year for Shields, as she also recently married fellow cyclocross racer Kerry Warner. Shields shares, “This year has already been so fantastic with marrying Kerry, graduating with my master’s in nutrition, finishing my dietetic internship, and now to top it all off, I have been given this amazing opportunity to race for The Amy D. Foundation.”
Shields’ future teammate Katherine Santos, who goes by “KK,” is in her second year with the program. As a last year U23 rider, Santos is aiming for a breakout season: “It’ll be my last year as a U23, so I’m hoping to make the most of it. I’ll be gunning for the Worlds selection.”
Santos is also a longtime cyclocross racer, as she started the sport at age 13, and developed through the well-known Louisville Red Zone Cycling development team. After winning cyclocross nationals in the 17-18-year-old category, Santos signed with Marian University, where she will be a senior this fall. Santos is a Marketing and Entrepreneurship major, who wants to start who own company when she graduates: “Whether in the cycling industry of not, I’d like to start a company that does good.”
In 2017-2018, Santos placed eighth at USA Cycling U23 Nationals and ninth in the Pan Am U23 Championships. She also placed ninth in the Collegiate Varsity race.
Equally important, Santos says she learned a lot from her professional mentors while riding for the Amy D. Foundation: “I learned to look for progression, every race better than the rest, every year better than the previous. The second thing I learned is how to prepare mentally and physically when you are racing at the next level.”
Reflecting on last year makes Santos all the more optimistic for the coming one: “Racing for the Amy D. Foundation has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Looking forward to this coming season, I have a feeling it’ll be the best one yet. I’m so excited to be riding in blue and orange for another season!”
New Model for Ground Support
In an exciting move forward, this fall the Amy D. Foundation will be taking sole responsibility for the teams’ on the ground operations.
Historically, the foundation partnered with other professional teams to provide ground support, first Raleigh Clement Professional Cyclocross Team from 2014 to 2017 and then Stan’s NoTubes cyclocross professional team during the 2017-2018 season.
This year, in a logical next step for the organization’s maturity, Amy D. Foundation is moving to an autonomous model for race day support. To this end, the foundation is pleased to announce the addition of Mo Bruno Roy as Team Manager/Mentor. Bruno Roy will share responsibility for on the ground operations with returning staff Executive Director Desiree Simon and Chief Mechanic Steve Donovan, whose Amy D. experience ensures continuity.
In launching the cyclocross team as a solo endeavor, The Amy D. Foundation will leverage their experience providing professional support to road composite teams at the nation’s most prestigious road races. The Amy D. Foundation Road Racing program, which has been in place since 2015, has provided a fully-supported professional experience to approximately 70 unique athletes in its 4-year lifespan. Executive Director Simon has been an integral part of the day-to-day operations of this program. The road programs demonstrate the foundation’s readiness for launching an autonomous cyclocross support model.
Mo Bruno Roy Named Team Manager/Mentor
Mentorship has always been a key component of the Amy D. Foundation model. Former team members Erica Zaveta and Rebecca Fahringer had breakout seasons riding for Amy D. Foundation. Some credit for their success is certainly due to the professional mentorship provided by the partnering pro teams. Both these athletes were mentored by Caroline Mani, as well as other members of the former Raleigh-Clement program. In turn, Fahringer, then headlining Stans NoTubes, went on to mentor KK Santos and former team member Christa Ghent last season.
The program aims to build opportunity and provide mentoring that promotes strong personal development. To that end, Mo Bruno Roy’s job title reads “manager/mentor,” and her role within the team will be a holistic one.
While Bruno Roy should need no introduction to the cyclocross world, the breadth and depth of her experience deserves mention. Competing from 2003 to 2015, Bruno Roy competed in 301 career cyclocross races, including 216 UCI races, and 18 National Championships (11 Elite, three Masters and two Singlespeed), 16 World Cups and two World Championships. She recorded 41 wins (nine UCI races, three Masters National Championships, two Singlespeed National Championships and one Singlespeed World Championship) and eight times finished in the top-10 at USA Cycling Elite Nationals. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for a future mentor, she recorded just two DNFs in 12 years of competition.
Surprisingly, Bruno Roy’s first introduction to elite cycling was actually not as a rider but as a soigneur for the Timex and Saturn pro cycling teams. She explains how she plans draw upon her soigneur/competitor background for her new Amy D. Foundation role:
As a soigneur, I learned how to best support professional racers through caregiving, emotional support and stress management. This allowed me to manage my own racing/life/work balance with a clearer head and tied in with my now 20-year career as a Muscular Therapist. Being able to understand the needs of racer from both perspectives will hopefully enhance my ability to both logistically manage and supportively mentor the Amy D. Foundation Cyclocross Racing elite team.
Bruno Roy met Amy Dombroski when they were both were just starting to race cyclocross. Although Dombroski started as an U23 and Bruno Roy was nearly 30, their careers followed a similar trajectory via the USGP Series, NACT Series and World Cups. Bruno Roy recalls:
Our results were often close and we’d compare notes on favorite courses, especially the Belgian ones. It seems two grubby New Englanders preferred legit mud and ‘the harder the better’ courses, even if we got our butts kicked! We were Worlds Teammates in 2009 in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. We even shared a career highlight with Amy second and me fourth at the Soudal Classic in Leuven, Belgium. I’ve never been happier to have a competitor finish above me. I felt like a proud big sister.
Bruno Roy is honored for the opportunity to help mentor and shape the CX Team, calling it a “passion project:”
I’m most excited to re-enter the sport after retirement in a new role supporting this passion-project. I’m thrilled to be working with our elite racers KK and Emily and with our amazing staff, Dan Dombroski, Desiree and Steve. I hope that working with the Amy D. Foundation will allow me to fulfill the idea of helping other women achieve their goals through my own racing and professional experience, passion for promoting equality and diversity in sport and to encourage women to always lift one another up to pursue the loftiest dreams in this one little precious life we have.
Industry Partnerships and Community Support
Industry partnerships have been key to Amy D. Foundation’s success since its inception. This year is no exception, as riders will benefit from a new partnership with Donnelly Bikes, as well as continued support from Lazer Sport, Pearl Izumi, Handlebar Mustache, Shimano and BikeFlights.
The team will be racing the new Donnelly Bikes C//C bike in “Amy D blue,” including Ushuaia wheels and Donnelly tubeless tires. Besides outfitting the riders, Donnelly is investing still further by making a donation to the foundation each time the Amy D Blue C//C bike is sold.
Each Donnelly bike will be equipped with Shimano parts a long standing supported of the program and parent company to Pearl Izumi and Lazer Sport.
Pearl Izumi will once again be providing the team’s distinctive blue and orange kit, including the heart with a lightning bolt logo. The lightning bolt symbol recalls Amy’s distinctive lightning bolt wrist tattoo memorializing her mother.
Amy’s long-time sponsor Lazer Sport will be providing riders with the new Bullet helmet, whose open/close airflow system is ideal for the changing conditions of cyclocross.
The elite team’s schedule has them racing across North America. BikeFlights will assume the all-important task of moving riders’ bikes and team equipment from venue to venue.
While industry partners are instrumental in providing equipment, clothing, and bike transport, much of the funding for this successful program comes from fundraisers and donations to Amy D. Foundation. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Also, new this year is the opportunity to support the foundation and fly the team’s colors via the Amy D. Foundation Grassroots Team. The grassroots team is a community-based team open to all genders, ages, and abilities. The team is registered with USA Cycling and membership includes a jersey.
See amydfoundation.org to follow the Amy D. Foundation Cyclocross Elite Team and to learn more about the Grassroots Team.