The Academy hopes to help address the gender disparity in cycling by offering women across the UK the support they need to gain a route into professional cycling, with guidance and mentorship from Storey.
The launch of the Academy follows the brand’s successful #ThisIsOurTime campaign last year, which shone a light on the achievements and ambitions of women in cycling. This year, Škoda tasked its partnerships agency, Fuse with developing the campaign from highlighting the issues in cycling to taking action.
Fuse interviewed industry stakeholders within cycling to unearth where Škoda could make an impact and discovered that in the talent pathway to professional cycling, there are not the same opportunities for women as there are for men. Through its cycling heritage, Škoda has access and assets to offer women a route into professional cycling who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. Through this insight, the Škoda DSI Cycling Academy was born.
Škoda is now calling for applications to the Academy, led by Academy Principal, Dame Sarah Storey. Up to 50 promising female cyclists will be chosen to be taken through a series of physical tests, resulting in five being inducted into the academy. Those lucky five will join Dame Sarah Storey for a training ride in June before joining the women’s cycling team J-1 to ride a station of the Tour de France a day ahead of the men, plus more ride experiences throughout the year.
Content captured throughout the Škoda DSI Cycling Academy will feature in four campaign films to be amplified across social, web, CRM and media. A media partnership, secured by PHD UK, will see the Škoda DSI Cycling Academy feature in the newly launched Telegraph Women’s Sport.
Lisa Kirkbright, communications manager, Škoda says: “Cycling is not only our heritage at Škoda, it’s our passion. It’s a privilege to be in a position to make a real impact on cycling and to work with cycling legend, Dame Sarah Storey, to offer promising female cyclists a chance to develop their skills and gain a route into professional cycling.”
Louise Johnson, chief executive at Fuse, adds: “After the success of last year’s #ThisIsOurTime campaign, which won Best Sponsorship of Women’s Activities at the UK Sponsorship Awards, we’re thrilled to be working again with Škoda on a bold campaign that’s making a difference.”
The Academy experience will also act as an extended trial with Storey Racing, Dame Sarah Storey’s professional race team. While not guaranteed, each rider has a chance to secure a place in the team, dependent on their performance throughout the programme and the discretion of Dame Sarah Storey.