Team Access-Cocoon is promoted by the Sustainable Cycling Foundation (SCF) and Cycology Riding Club (Cycology), both based in Lagos, as part of their ongoing grassroots development of cycling in Nigeria. It is the culmination of several years of investment, training, and collaboration with a number of groups and individuals both domestically and internationally. The team is supported by Craneburg Construction, Eterna-Castrol and Velocare as sponsors also.
Team Access-Cocoon will race as an elite team in 2019 with the promoters intending to register with the UCI for the 2020 season. This will make Team Access-Cocoon the first cycling team in Nigeria to be registered with the UCI, the world governing body for cycling. Upon its registration, the 15-member team will then be eligible to participate on the UCI Continental Circuit. This will mark a great milestone for Nigerian cycling as the nation joins other African countries who now boast continental cycling teams such as Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and TEG Pro Cycling (South Africa) and Team Benediction Cycling (Rwanda).
The athletes and staff of Team Access-Cocoon have been carefully handpicked by SCF and Cycology from the pool of talent in their elite and development teams. Amongst these are Nigeria's first Ironman Triathlete - Miebakka "Blacky" Aggo and accomplished professional Time Trial cyclist, Eyo Effiok. The team also features Innocent Emmanuel and Preye John Dede, two young cyclists with significant international exposure. Counted among their palmares are victories at the Nigerian National Championship and several regional African races.
Team Access-Cocoon joins the list of UCI teams supported by leading corporate brands. Amaechi Okobi, Group Head of Communications for Access Bank, shared the bank's commitment to the sponsorship, "African sport 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 the popular culture here. Our annual sponsorship of the Lagos City Marathon is living proof of 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, which has a vision of delivering homes to a segment that is acutely underserved, the initiative provides another opportunity to close the social gap in Nigeria while promoting healthy lifestyles through cycling. Farouk Imam, Managing Director of Cocoon Homes, explains his support of the team, "This is a tremendous leap in the history of Nigerian sports and we are delighted to be a part of the great story. Cocoon Homes prides itself on being a responsible and innovative developer and supporting the creation of a continental cycling team is in line with our core values. 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."
Over the years, SCF and Cycology have passionately focused on the growth of grass-roots cycling and by extension nurturing the development of cyclists in Nigeria. These not-for-profit organizations have created and supported more than ten elite and junior cycling teams; trained athletes and mechanics internationally; organized multiple races across Nigeria and set up ventures to support the cycling ecosystem. SCF and Cycology will be collaborating closely with the CFN on the initiative.
A training camp at the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Musanze, Rwanda is planned for Q1 2019 under the tutelage of the Rwandan National Cycling Team's head coach Sterling Magnell and his experienced team. The promoters are grateful to him, Jock Boyer and Kimberly Coats (of the Team Africa Rising initiative), Access Bank Plc, Cocoon Homes and the other sponsors for the great support that has made this dream a reality.
Photo by Gina Amama