Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank Founder, Linda Jackson, announces funding of Seattle-based grassroots
September 28th, 2021
Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank Founder, Linda Jackson, today announced funding of Seattle-based grassroots development team, Fount Cycling Guild, with the goal of taking more women from tennis shoes to the World Tour. Fount, a relatively unknown amateur team, exploded onto the women's pro scene this year at US PRO Road Nationals with a third-place finish for Veronica Ewers.
Founded by Jennifer Wheeler and David Richter, both former pro cyclists, Fount Cycling Guild is a grassroots club team of 90 plus riders, which focuses on developing riders and preparing them for domestic elite teams.
Jennifer Wheeler hugs Veronica Ewers after 2021 US Pro Nationals. Photo/Chris Wilson
"As we move Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank up to world tour status, it's going to leave a void for development level riders in North America. Funding Fount through Silicon Valley Cycling Foundation, (SVCF), a 501c3 formed to develop promising female athletes into top international competitors, will help fill that void. Jennifer raced for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank in 2011 and 2012, and we have stayed in touch over the decade since. I think it's fair to say that Jennifer and I are equal in our passion for helping aspiring female cyclists. We both do have the experience, time and desire to invest in women.
SVCF's contribution is a start on the funding side, but we are looking for others to step in to help fund the team," Jackson said. There are so many people who are passionate about fixing the discrepancies between men's and women's cycling. This is a great way to take action on that issue."
Jennifer Wheeler raced for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank in 2011 and 2012. Photo/Jono Devich
What makes Fount unique as a development team is their niche of finding non-cyclists and transforming them into pros. Their riders come from diverse backgrounds, including rowing, bobsled, and soccer.
Since its start in 2019, Fount has dominated the local racing scene across all categories in the Pacific Northwest. These results inspired the team to grow the club and form an elite women's team.
"We don't just expect people to show up as Cat 1 racers and then add them to our team," Richter says. "That's not growing the sport." As a coach for over 15 years, David has a lot of experience spotting diamonds in the rough physiologically.
Women coming into pro cycling later in life is a major contributor to the lack of depth in the pro peloton. It's also a familiar experience to Jackson and Wheeler. Jackson found cycling by accident in 1991, at age 33, and left her career as an investment banker two years later to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympian. She made Canada's 1996 Olympic team and placed third at the 1996 World Championships at age 38.
Wheeler ran competitively in college but then fell into competitive cycling almost ten years later when meeting a local racer during her bike commute to work. From there, she was hooked and became a pro two years later, at age 31, and raced for TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank for two years. She stopped to begin a career at Microsoft but missed competing. Wheeler later came back to the sport in 2018 to win a national championship in the track in the pursuit and medal at the Pan Am Games for Team USA.
"I believe that by investing in the early recruitment and development of talented female athletes we will broaden the base of the women's world tour pyramid," Jackson added. "Right now, there are 20-30 women that dominate the elite racing calendar. Jennifer's program has already propelled Veronica Ewers into the World Tour, and I am sure she will produce many more entrants into the peloton."
The Fount Cycling team celebrates after an inspiring performance at US Pro Nationals this year. Photo/Chris Wilson
"The women are out there," Wheeler said. "You just have to find and develop them. This requires passion, time, money, and energy—it's definitely not easy."