One Australian cycling team gave in to financial pressure in July. Unwilling to throw in the towel, the women’s team’s new director stepped up and delivered — big.
As recently as Aug. 2021, everything looked rosy for Australia’s InForm TMX Make cycling team. Team founder and managing director Cameron McKimm announced that month that a women’s unit would join the existing men’s fleet in 2022 for the first time.
That happened, but the women’s run in the Australian National Road Series (NRS) would be brutally short-lived. In July, McKimm announced the team was folding. It looked like a casualty of unchecked growth.
“After nine years in operation, I regret to announce that 2022 will be InForm TMX MAKE’s last season as a cycling team,” McKimm wrote on Instagram. “Unfortunately, with the size we’ve grown to, we are unable to secure the commercial support, and I’m also unable to give it the time it deserves.”
When the announcement hit, Pat Shaw had logged just 10 days in his tenure as Women’s Team Director Sportif. Instead of giving up and moving on, he looked to the team’s fans for support — and made a GoFundMe page.
Shaw did it to support a deficiency in the opportunity he saw for Australian women cyclists. He made his feminist mission clear in the campaign.
“Now is the time we must act; with the gap growing, not narrowing, we must do something now,” he wrote. “We have an incredible opportunity to make a genuine difference for the current generation of young women cycling and the many generations to come after.”
The campaign launched on Aug. 5. Today, it’s an official success, having garnered 120,360 Australian dollars of its targeted AU$100,000 in funding.
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It’s a start, according to the campaign, but it doesn’t signal the end of its battle for survival. Shaw said the team needs more than the crowdfunded amount but did say that “tentative” sponsorship agreements for bikes, components, and clothing are in place.
Meanwhile, the team barrels toward prospective action in the 2023 season. Shaw and InForm TMX Make set the goal of taking the 14 women on the squad to races starting in the Australian summer, which begins in December. After that, they’ll also target an Australian spring schedule and a 4-month European race tour.
Most recently, Ella Bloor turned in a strong performance at Gravelista, the Sept. 3-4 Gravel World Series stop in Beechworth, Australia. She took third in her age group and fifth among women overall.
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The outlook for the men of InForm TMX Make remains unclear. But they have seen competitive action in Belgium throughout the summer, where Tristan Saunders and Blake Agnoletto have podiumed.
One thing, though, comes across crystal clear: the women’s team’s goals.
“The team’s mission? To become one of the best teams in the world,” Shaw wrote. “To offer the best possible pathway for young women to reach their potential in the sport of cycling.”
If GoFundMe paves the road back to the circuit for InForm TMX Make, it could do the same for other teams struggling to support themselves. Over 150 donors have opened their wallets for the cause as of this writing.