Access Bank, Cocoon Homes back Nigeria’s first professional cycling squad for world championship
Team Access Cocoon is being promoted by the Sustainable Cycling Foundation (SCF) and Cycology Riding Club (Cycology), as part of their ongoing grassroots development of cycling in Nigeria.
It will race as an elite team this year prior to registration with the world cycling body, UCI for the 2020 season.
According to the promoters of the side, which derives its name from a combination of Access Bank and Cocoon Homes, its main sponsors, the team is a result of several years of investment, training and collaboration with a number of groups and individuals, both local and international, including Craneburg Construction, Eterna-Castrol and Velocare as sponsors.
It hopes to join other African countries, which now boast continental cycling teams such as Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and TEG Pro Cycling (South Africa) and Team Benediction Cycling (Rwanda).
Speaking on the plans for the team recently, SCF Chairman, Falz Imam said, “SCF has proven successful in the growth of cycling at the grassroots level and we recognize the amazing opportunity as well as the challenges.
“We believe we will be successful based on the expertise of partners like TAR, who have been involved in the development of cycling in multiple countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya.
“We are very pleased with what they have achieved over the last decade and we are confident that, with their experience over this period, they can help Team Access-Cocoon achieve its objectives while inspiring the next generation of Nigerian cyclists.”
He disclosed that the athletes and staff of Team Access-Cocoon have been carefully handpicked by SCF and Cycology from the pool of talents in their elite and development teams.
Imam names Nigeria’s first Ironman Triathlete – Miebakka “Blacky” Aggo and accomplished professional Time Trial cyclist, Eyo Effiok as some of the leading cyclists in Team Access-Cocoon’s squad, adding, “the team also features Innocent Emmanuel and Preye John Dede, two young cyclists with significant international exposure. They have recorded victories at the Nigerian National Championship and several regional African races.”
Also speaking on the project, Cycology Captain, Bimpe Olufemi said: “it is truly a realisation of our joint dream to promote grassroots cycling by identifying talents that can compete at international level. We see a lot of potential in Nigerian cyclists, especially in track and criterium; we have also set a five-year target to move the continental team to a world tour team.
“This goal seems much more achievable now than in 2011, when the vision was first articulated.”
Team Access-Cocoon joins the list of UCI teams supported by leading corporate brands.
Amaechi Okobi, Group Head of Communications at Access Bank, shares the bank’s commitment to the sponsorship, saying, “African sports and culture have a very bright future. Access Bank is dedicated to giving the very best perspective on this story. We are doing this in music, arts, film, fashion and sport, all very relevant to popular culture here. Our annual sponsorship of the Lagos City Marathon is a living proof to this. The vitality of life as embodied in sports is a necessary pill for everyday growth and sustainability. Cycling reminds us of the rotation and movement of everyday life, that takes us back and forth from one place to the other, and we are very excited to be supporting this initiative.”
For real estate development company, Cocoon Homes, the initiative provides another opportunity to close the social gap in Nigeria while promoting healthy lifestyles through cycling. Managing Director of Cocoon Homes, Farouk Imam, says the development “is a tremendous leap in the history of Nigerian sports and we are delighted to be a part of the great story. The positive impact of Team Access-Cocoon will no doubt cut across all boundaries to unite Africans in our vision to be part of a leading, healthy and successful nation and continent.”
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