As of 1st January 2023, Australia’s World Tour cycling team, GreenEDGE Cycling, has been named ‘Team Jayco AlUla’ following the elevation of Royal Commission for AlUla – an arm of the Saudi Arabian government – from official partner to second naming rights partner. The new signed agreement will run through to 31st December 2025.
The Royal Commission for AlUla was established in 2017 by royal decree and is chaired by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. AlUla is an ancient city in Saudi Arabia’s north-west, currently being promoted as a rich destination of human and natural heritage - home to historic treasures, including the Nabataean city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, and the tombs of Dadan, the stone-built capital of the Dadanite and Lihyanite Kingdoms.
As Team Owner Gerry Ryan continues to back the Australian World Cycling team into its 12th season, the well-known investor in sport will have one of his company names – ‘Jayco’ – a recreational vehicle manufacturer – as first naming rights partner alongside ‘AlUla’ for the upcoming season – replacing the BikeExchange-Jayco 2022 partnership.
This new major agreement with AlUla is considered to be an important step for the future of GreenEDGE Cycling and its vision, as it continues to develop and strengthen both its men’s and women’s teams and evolve and innovate as an organisation.
AlUla also hopes to introduce its landscape of ancient civilisations to millions of cycling and sports fans around the world. Over the past years the region has developed to establish a strong connection with sport, having hosted a variety of events, including the UCI 2.1 Saudi Tour in February 2022.
However, while Team Owner Gerry Ryan and General Manager, Brent Copeland enthuse about the partnership, Professor Justine Nolan, the director of the Australian Human Rights Institute has spotlighted GreenEDGE Cycling for enabling Saudi Arabia to continue its “open engagement in sportswashing”.
Professor Nolan told the Guardian “Sports and human rights are intimately connected and while sports can be a force for good it can also be used as a subterfuge.”
According to the Guardian, at the time of GreenEDGE’s initial deal with AlUla, Copeland, said there was “mutual respect and alignment of values” between his team and AlUla.
Ryan, also said in a release 22nd December 2022 “This new commitment will enable the organisation to continue this fantastic journey in the world of professional cycling, with even bigger goals and ambitions for the future. With this new name, we will have a new look for both our men’s and women’s teams and with the continued commitment and support from all of our other partners, we are very excited to get the new year started after enjoying a lot of success throughout 2022.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Nolan added “the sponsorship announcement which noted ‘an alignment of values’ raises questions about what those values are – restrictions on free speech, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender or religion and criminalisation of dissent? In this case, money trumps rights.”
Phillip Jones, Chief Management & Marketing Officer, Royal Commission for AlUla shared “AlUla is a new destination with ancient roots. Over the last few years, we have started to become known as an unchartered, intriguing destination for curious travellers and we feel this partnership with Team Jayco AlUla is an important part of our strategy and success. We love working with the passionate team, both those competing and those facilitating, and we love the alignment of the two brands as we continue to develop AlUla into a world-leading example of responsible and sustainable tourism.
“Cycling is a big part of our vision for the future of AlUla with natural assets of stunning sandstone mountains, volcanic plateaus and an oasis with long winding roads running through it all. We are excited to be hosting the inaugural cycling camp in AlUla directly after the Saudi Tour 2023 where the cyclists will have a chance to engage and inspire the next generation. We’ve been cheering the team on and encouraging more fans across the region, and we look forward to more success on and off the road for Team Jayco AlUla.”
‘Team Jayco AlUla’ will make its official debut in the UCI WorldTour peloton at the Santos Tour Down Under, starting with the women’s event on the 15th of January in Adelaide, followed by the men’s event on the 17th of January. Prior to this the team will compete at the Federation University Australia Road Championships and Citroën Bay Crits.
It will display its new name and image at the Tour Down Under in January as it commences its 12th season on the World Tour.
Image. Still from video courtesy GreenEdge Cycling
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