Last June, EF Education made a surprise announcement that it would field a new women’s racing team in 2024. That was surprising because EF already had a women’s team. Long story short, EF wanted to own its women’s team like it does the men’s squad, but couldn’t agree on a price with general manager and team owner Linda Jackson.
While there was an outside chance that the two sides might finally reach an agreement, that hasn’t happened, and is even slimmer now that EF has announced who will manage its women’s team in 2024: Esra Tromp.
Tromp will be on familiar territory in the role. A former pro who raced six seasons on UCI-registered teams, Tromp went on to manage the well-regarded Parkhotel Valkenberg team for several years before joining Jumbo-Visma to start its women’s team. Tromp left Jumbo-Visma in April, but will now take on a similar challenge with EF. Similar, but not identical.
“Next year, the main goals are to be really visible within the races and build a cohesive group of riders and staff,” Tromp said in a press release announcing her hire. “We want our team to be out there, and of course to try to win races.” That might seem like a low bar given that Alison Jackson won Paris-Roubaix in April, but it comes in context of the fact that the old EF and new EF are different entities entirely. The new one is effectively starting from scratch.
The 2023 team raced at the WorldTour level, but Jackson owns the rights to that license. The new EF team will race with a Continental license in 2024. That has some bearing on final roster size, as the maximum team size for Women’s WorldTour team is 20 riders (no current WorldTour team has more than 18) while Continental teams are capped at 16. More importantly, EF will not get guaranteed entry in WorldTour events. As of publication, Linda Jackson had not responded to Escape Collective‘s request for comment on her plans for that license.
The team declined to address questions around specific riders it would hire or roster size, and whether staff members of the existing team would be offered positions with the new one, but said it was excited to begin announcing signings soon.
Of the 16 riders on the current team, only one – star climber and GC rider Veronica Ewers – is reportedly under contract past 2023, and again, her contract is technically with Jackson’s To The Top management company. So many of the team are potentially in the market, although the exact makeup and final roster size of the new outfit are still to be determined.
“When starting a new team, it usually starts with the staff and a few riders you think will be a great fit with the new environment,” Tromp said in the release. Since the transfer window opened on August 1, those announcements may begin to come soon, but more clarity on staff may take longer.
When EF announced in June that it would start a new team, general manager Jonathan Vaughters told Escape Collective that the team planned to hire staff in areas like sports science that would be dedicated to the women’s team, but would overall operate the men’s and women’s teams as a single integrated unit. That’s similar to how Jumbo-Visma operates, and will likely benefit from Tromp’s experience, as she also ran operations for both teams for the final 18 months of her time there.
From there, Vaughters said the plan is to build over three to four years into one of the top teams in the sport. Tromp is now tasked with making that happen, but at least she’s on familiar ground to start.
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