Specialized has today announced a continued commitment to Team SD Worx, in a deal that will keep them together until at least 2028.
The two parties have been in collaboration since 2014, a season which saw the brand follow Ellen van Dijk from Specialized-Lululemon (now Canyon-SRAM) to the then Boels-Dolmans team.
In that inaugural year, the team raced aboard the S-Works Amira, and Van Dijk piloted it to success at not only the Ladies Tour but the Tour of Flanders too, while Lizzie Deignan saw similar success at the Commonwealth Games road race.
Like all of its sponsored teams, the Team SD-Worx riders have worked closely with Specialized on the development of its products in the nine years since the partnership began.
Crucially, they helped provide the data that led to the brand's decision to scrap women-specific bikes entirely. Having seen various pro riders choosing to ride the brand's Tarmac 'men's bike' painted up as an Amira, it began researching. In 2019, it launched its Beyond Gender philosophy after finding that there is more difference between two given men than between men and women in general when it came to bike fit needs.
Demi Vollering, winner of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes, is a key product tester for the brand. She was pivotal in the development of the brand's latest race bike, the Tarmac SL8.
“Last year was a year to never forget," Vollering said, having won the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, the Tour de Romandie Féminin, Amstel Gold, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Dutch national championships road race, and of course the Tour de France Femmes, to name just the headline wins.
"Together with Specialized it was a dream come true, without the ongoing support and trust it wouldn’t be the same. Next year will be very special, we’ll make even more dreams come true on the Tarmac SL8.”
Her team manager, Danny Stam, who was in the headlines during Vollering's Tour win for less good reasons when he was booted off the race for dangerous driving, was equally complimentary of the American brand.
“As a team, we have been working with Specialized since 2014 with great satisfaction. We are proud to announce that the long-standing partnership between Specialized and Team SD Worx will be extended through 2028. We can be proud of what we have achieved together as partners over the past few years in professionalising women's cycling.”
Today's commitment, providing it runs its full term, will see the collaboration between the two extend to 14 years in duration.
It's a move that mimics the brand's 2021 commitment to men's WorldTour team Deceuninck-QuickStep (now Soudal-QuickStep). The two sides committed for six years until 2027, with the then-CEO Mike Sinyard describing the team as "instrumental in the development of cutting-edge technology" for the brand.
Those words echo loudly in today's comments from Leader of S-Racing, Scott Jackson. He says the deal will allow the brand to "really dive into each and every technical detail to support the best athletes in the world."
This commitment and the failed takeover bid of Soudal-QuickStep by Jumbo Visma (to be called Visma-Lease a Bike in 2024) mean that Specialized's commitment to WorldTour teams in 2024 remains at three, with Bora-Hansgrohe believed to be continuing with the brand in that third spot.
The brand's deal with Total-Energies, however, which came about in 2022 when Specialized's personal deal with Peter Sagan was extended to the team upon his signing, remains unclear following his recent retirement.
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