On Saturday at The Hotel Roanoke, leaders of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and the Virginia Tourism Corporation announced that Team TWENTY24, a diverse team of female professional and junior cyclists, will officially relocate their base of operations from Idaho to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The team’s name will now be Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 (VBR TWENTY24).
For more than 17 years, America’s premier women’s cycling team has been responsible for developing and managing many of the most successful American female cyclists, establishing a consistent pipeline for talented road, gravel, and Zwift eSports athletes. The team has earned 14 Olympic and Paralympic medals, 17 world championships, and countless national championships.
The 2022 roster consists of six professional athletes racing road and gravel, five Zwift eSports athletes, and 27 junior athletes (ages 9-17 years). The team is led by Tokyo Olympic gold and bronze medalist Jennifer Valente (USA), a 10-year member of the team. Valente will be joined by two-time Olympian and current Pan American Time Trial Champion Marlies Mejias (CUB) who will establish Roanoke as her home base while competing in the United States.
Rukhsar Habibzai, former Afghan national team captain and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, now calls Virginia her home and will compete in the United States with her eyes set on the Paris Olympic Games. The full VBR TWENTY24 roster and schedule of events will be announced in the coming weeks.
The multi-discipline team includes 2021 number one ranked Zwift eSports female rider Kristen Kulchinsky (USA) and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong (USA), who continues to bring her high-performance guidance and coaching expertise to the team through a newly launched partner platform, KX3 Lifestyle and Coaching. The KX3 coaching philosophy centers around helping athletes at any level take a holistic approach to their goals and to pursuing their own personal gold.
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR), the region’s destination marketing organization, including the cities of Roanoke and Salem as well at the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt and Franklin, is excited to embrace the diversity of female athletes, inspire youth in the community and welcome the economic development opportunities presented as Team TWENTY24’s title sponsor for the next three years.
“On behalf of the Visit VBR Board, we are invested in Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 underscoring the diversity, equity and inclusion these athletes represent and the inspiration they will share with our community,” said Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. “In addition to increasing the visibility of the VBR brand nationally and internationally, this will prompt many new stories about VBR as an outdoor destination playground.”
With the support of platinum level sponsor Virginia Tourism Corporation, the partnership with the team became a reality.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge has been gaining momentum as a preferred cycling destination since earning a Silver-Level Ride Center designation from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) in 2018 and hosting the inaugural Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge triathlon in 202, including a highly competitive 56-mile bike route along one of the most scenic byways in the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go to BikeVBR.com to learn more about cycling in the region and for additional information on this initiative go to VBRTWENTY24.com.
VBR TWENTY24 plans to embrace the outdoor landscape of the Virginia Mountains Region.
“The vibrant cycling culture in Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) makes it a natural fit for Team TWENTY24,” said Nicola Cranmer, founder and general manager of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24. “The rich mix of outdoor gravel and road assets solidifies VBR as a premier cycling destination for our athletes. Our first year in Virginia will have a strong focus on connecting with the community, developing our new athletes through training camps on the beautiful and challenging roads of the region.”