What's new in the Chicagoland racing scene?

Press Release: Chicagoland has a new Racing and Development Program, Chicago Women's Elite Cycling (CWEC)

Women category 1/2 racers have come together to form a new sustainable, cycling development program aimed at enabling Chicagoland category P1/2 racers to compete effectively as a composite team in PRO races. To ensure continual growth of the program, development efforts will support the needs of local riders with aspirations of racing at the P/1/2 level. 

Chicago, IL (January 8, 2015)—Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling (CWEC) is an organization in which top Chicagoland racing talent set aside their team allegiances to train and compete as a composite team at nationally recognized races. In order to remain sustainable, CWEC has three primary initiatives: 1) to develop a revenue stream not entirely dependent on sponsorships, 2) to invigorate the vibrant and growing Chicago racing scene, and 3) to invest in the development of future elite racers.

Daphne Karagianis, the CWEC co-founder, explains, “The local women’s racing scene in Chicago is dynamic and exciting. To maintain this energy and continue to grow the quantity and quality of racers, CWEC riders will compete on their local Chicago teams, mentoring their teammates, and encouraging other local racers to excel. CWEC will also partner with race teams and promoters to co-host development clinics and training opportunities. For nationally recognized races, CWEC riders will join forces in representing Chicago, and compete as a team, which will be more effective than racing individually. CWEC will invest in a team director to provide guidance and direction to advance the team dynamic and performance.”

Chicago is under-represented in the pay-out positions in P/1/2 races nationally. The number of P/1/2 racers from Chicago ranks amongst the lowest of the major U.S. cities. Attempts to consolidate elite Chicago racers onto a “super team” were both short-lived and drained the vibrancy from the local racing scene. With a vision to become a sustainable organization for the benefit of all Chicagoland women racers that aspire to compete at the PRO level, CWEC will remain a composite team structure that is not reliant on any particular sponsor.

"If CWEC existed when I started racing, I would have been so excited and motivated by having a real goal of rising to that level. It's so great that Chicago women now have a way to go further in racing than previously possible." said Annie Byrne of BFF Bikes. CWEC aims to provide racers with the tools they need for success, and keep riders inspired and committed. This little difference in the Chicagoland area can make a big difference in cycling programs nationwide.

CWEC has established relationships with other organizations that are similarly focused on improving women’s racing, such as Women’s Cycling Association (WCA). Robin Farina, WCA CEO says, “CWEC is a unique organization which could be the solution for building the women’s racing scene in the major cycling cities of the U.S. Unlike California, most states or regions do not have enough elite racers to compete locally and develop skills and performance to compete nationally. The WCA looks forward to working with the CWEC to build a support program for elite women racers in Chicago and beyond.”


The CWEC Development Program will be lead by Francine Haas. She has hosted clinics, group rides and promoted women in bike racing consistently since 2002. “Over the past decade, I have hosted several 1-day clinics each year. Topics have included road riding and racing, track racing and athlete nutrition. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to partner with industry professionals to increase clinic participation and offer expert content. With CWEC, I hope to build on the successes of previous clinics and collaborate with local race promoters and teams to create a development series benefiting racers and promoters alike. CWEC is also building a library of resources for racers to reference.”

2015 Team Roster

The 2015 Road Team Roster has been finalized and includes Chicago Cuttin’ Crew’s Daphne Karagianis and Jannette Rho, PSIMET Racing's Kelli Richter and Sarah Szefi, and XxX’s Ellen Ryan. USAC licensed racers interested in participating on the CWEC team can view the 2015 Rider Selection Criteria and submit a request. The team is accepting guest riders for the 2015 season.

2015 Race Calendar

The CWEC 2015 race calendar is currently being planned based on the following criteria: USACrits calendar, National Criterium Calendar (NCC), National Racing Calendar (NRC), or race series that draw professional women’s racing teams. CWEC will give preference to races that provide equal pay-outs. The expectation is that the 2016 calendar will be more ambitious with the organizational structure in place, race team dynamic better understood, and funding available.


CWEC has established partnerships with local Chicago businesses, Tenspeed Hero and PSIMET Wheels. Owner and co-founder of Tenspeed Hero, Luke Batten, says "We are excited to be supporting the team, and most importantly CWEC, helping to create a long term platform that seeks to support women's cycling for years to come." Rob Curtis, PSIMET owner and founder, has a passion for road racing and believes strongly that women’s racing deserves better support. In 2014, PSIMET Racing made a significant financial investment to sponsor a composite team that competed at the Joe Martin NRC Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas. CWEC is proud to have Tenspeed Hero and PSIMET as sponsors and welcomes additional sponsors that have a passion to see women excel in this sport, not just locally, but nationally.

The 2015 foremost initiatives on which CWEC is focused include developing the organizational structure, building reciprocal relationships within the Chicago race community, obtaining funds, identifying a team director to work with the racers to develop their talents as a team, creating the development program to enhance rider skills, not only of the CWEC riders, but also those within the Chicago community that have aspirations of joining the CWEC team, and competing effectively in selected races.

CWEC is hosting a town hall meeting at 4PM on Sunday, January 25th at Edge Athlete Lounge, to take questions, listen to feedback, and celebrate the launch of the organization. Please join us and RSVP here. 

About Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling:

CWEC is an organization led by Chicagoland women category 1/2 cyclists working in partnership with the community to support the advancement of Chicago women’s elite racing performance. For more information, to volunteer, and/or to donate to CWEC, visit chicagowomenselite.com.

In the following months we will have many more updates and exciting news. Please follow us and join the conversation.

Twitter: @chiwomenselite

Instagram: @chiwomenselite

Website: chicagowomenselite.com


Daphne Karagianis, Co-Founder

Cathy Frampton, Co-Founder and President

Leah Sanda, Team Manager

Francine Haas, Rider Development

Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling