Team 31 was created out of a desire to do something different. Rather than perpetuate the pressurized structure of elite racing, with its focus on podiums, followers, and engagement, the goal is to have fun and inspire others.
At the upper echelon of racing, it is easy to forget that riding bikes is fun. That is why spending time with children is so important. It is a reminder of why we ride and more importantly, an opportunity to inspire the next generation to stay active and healthy.
The team’s name also brings attention to Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities.“
The Team was inspired by the personal journey of Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds. After overcoming a personal battle with eating disorders and depression which caused her to leave cycling, she has returned to the sport and become a major proponent for mental health.
In addition to Jenny, the team includes returning member Kelsey Urban. Kelsey is the 2019 U‑23 National Champion and a US National Team Member. The third member of the team is Linn Gustaffzon, a Swedish National Rider racing on her first factory program. Together, the team will focus on the UCI World Cup events.
Team 31 will be racing on the new US-made Ibis Exie. Tom Morgan, the President of Ibis Cycles said: “When we designed the Exie we aspired to make a bike capable of competing at the highest level of the sport — partly to show what we could do, but also because we’re huge fans of World Cup XC racing.
The idea of sponsoring Team 31 and Jenny seemed like a fantasy — she is one of the athletes we’ve most admired in racing. Not just because of her race results, but because of the incredible work she’s done to raise attention for the rights of children. After a hectic few weeks of working with the Team 31 management to put together an all-star roster of equipment sponsors the fantasy became a reality.
It’s great to be working with Linn Gustafzzon and Kelsey Urban as well. A Swedish National Team member, Linn joins what Jenny and Kelsey have started and we’re excited to see what she’s capable of with full team support. And it’s great to be working with Kelsey, a former NICA athlete from the Bay Area, who adds a local element to our Swedish connection.”
Team 31 held its training camp in Santa Cruz in early February. During the trip, they had the opportunity to meet with Ibis employees, tour the new solar-powered Exie factory, and ride with one of the local high school teams.
”Ibis have proved that they are ready to take a step in a different direction. That’s exactly what we as a team are looking for. I’m very excited about this partnership and excited to help push the sports industry towards something healthier. Together with Ibis, we want to show the next generation that sport can be playful, fun, and free from pressure, and not only about winning, losing, and fighting mentality. Sport is for everybody, and we are happy about finally finding a bike brand who is willing to go on this journey with us,” said Jenny Rissveds.
Kelsey Urban echoed the sentiment. “It’s unique to represent a brand you feel connected to, one where you can see the people, personality, and mission behind the logo. Working with Ibis has been just that. Not only are they building bikes to last and working on clean energy solutions for carbon manufacturing, but they also are supporting us in racing at the top-level as people, not just athlete robots. I feel immensely lucky to take on the coming chapter with them behind us.”
"sport can be playful, fun, and free from pressure"
All the Team 31 sponsors are keen to help achieve their goal of positivity. As Linn Gustafzzon said, “Our goal is to show what is important about sports, it should be FUN, healthy, confidence building, and for everyone.”
The new partnership with Ibis is a significant development for the team, but it is not the only change. Another important development supporting the team as its helmet, eyewear, protection, and apparel partner will be POC. As a Swedish company with extensive experience in performance and protection, there is a natural Swedish connection to the team and riders, as well as a long-term collaboration with Ibis.
Elizabeth Reeder, Head of Global Sports Marketing Strategy for POC, said – “As Team 31 is a Swedish based team working in collaboration with our long-term partner, Ibis, the synergies and excitement was obvious from the very beginning! But it also represents significantly more. To be able to support some truly world-class female athletes and help them achieve their performance goals is an amazing objective. On top of that, to bring about a bigger debate on participation and bring the younger generation to the joys and benefits of cycling is a vision worthy of all our support. It promises to be an amazing season.”