Cynisca Cycling part ways with Inga Thompson, Marion Clignet

 Inga Thompson wears the polka dot jersey in Gap at the 1986 women's Tour de France
Inga Thompson wears the polka dot jersey in Gap at the 1986 women's Tour de France

Cynisca Cycling has confirmed that it has parted ways with a board of directors member Inga Thompson and sports director Marion Clignet. A team representative confirmed to Cyclingnews that Thompson resigned from her board member position in April and that Clignet's contract was not renewed in February.

"Cynisca Cycling confirms that Inga Thompson is no longer a member of the Cynisca board of directors and will have no consulting or any other role with Cynisca," the team wrote in a press release on Wednesday regarding Thompson's departure, also stating, "The association with Inga Thompson has affected Cynisca's brand and reputation."

Scroll to continue with content

Thompson joined Cynisca Cycling's board members, including founder and CEO Jeff Jones, Chris Gutowsky, Adam Giles, Margaret Jones and Jim Watson, last October, three months after the team was officially launched in France.

Thompson is a three-time Olympian and two-time podium finisher at the former women's Tour de France, and US Bicycling Hall of Fame inductee. She has been vocal in her opposition to transgender women competing in the women's category of sport and is part of the "save women's sport" movement that aims to "protect" the women's category.

Cynisca Cycling has stated that Thompson's views do not align with the team's.

"Ms. Thompson was invited to the board because of her impressive palmarés and a wealth of knowledge on international race strategy, tactics and training. If shared in the absence of politics, her knowledge and experience would benefit many and advance cycling for everyone. However, she has decided to dedicate her time to excluding people that are otherwise currently eligible to compete in UCI events. She has also attempted to use our team as a platform for her political activity," said Cynisca Cycling.


Read More

Philippa York: Cycling needs transgender education, not exclusion

'It is incredibly painful to be othered' - Austin Killips on division, debate and building dialogue

UCI to reopen talks with athletes, federations on transgender participation

"Ms. Thompson's departure resolves a troubling conflict of interest. Cynisca is an apolitical organisation, and her campaign and methods, by charter, UCI Code of Ethics, US law and decency, are not and will never be Cynisca's mission. To be clear, Ms. Thompson is entitled to her opinions and advocacy, but her methods and personal attacks are inconsistent with Cynisca's mission to advance opportunities for women. Those methods, well-documented on Ms. Thompson's social media presence, include dehumanisation of transgender people, spreading misinformation, demagoguery, and personal attacks on anyone who opposes her views."

Cynisca Cycling also stated that its association with Thompson had affected the team on various levels, including its reputation, coverage in the media, and potential hiring of qualified staff, and the team alleged that Thompson had attempted to intimidate staff.


"The association with Ms. Thompson has affected Cynisca's brand and reputation," the team wrote.

“Respected cycling journalists have refused to cover the team, and qualified and competent people have declined job offers out of fear of crossing or appearing to align themselves with her. Ms. Thompson has also attempted to intimidate several current Cynisca staff members for challenging those methods and their effect on Cynisca's reputation," said Cynisca Cycling.

Cyclingnews reached out to Thompson for comment regarding Cynisca Cycling’s press release and allegations, however, she did not provide a statement.

Thompson instead sent Cyclingnews the resignation letter that she emailed to Jones on April 28, which confirmed that she stepped down from her position with Cynisca to "serve with a soon-to-launch organisation Future of Cycling," a position that she felt would conflict with her role on as a board member at Cynisca.


Her resignation letter to Jones also outlined her concern about what she alleged was a possible SafeSport violation of “bullying” and a "toxic atmosphere" within the programme.

In her resignation letter, Thompson wrote, “Please know that this decision to join Future of Cycling was not an easy one to make. Sadly, I feel serving in this role would create a conflict of interest with my role serving on the board of Cynisca, a conflict which I do not want to inflict upon you or Cynisca. I have the utmost respect for your work and goals with Cynisca, I greatly appreciate your leadership in advancing its stated mission, and sincerely want to see it and the riders thrive and succeed.”

She added, “After careful consideration for the needs to protect women's cycling and the needs of Cynisca, I have decided to step down from my position on the board of Cynisca.”

Cyclingnews reached out to Cynisca Cycling regarding Thompson's allegations of bullying and to request information regarding a possible SafeSport complaint, and the team’s representative replied.


“I confirmed that there has been no contact of any kind with the team from SafeSport,” a representative from Cynisca Cycling said. “I’ve never seen bullying and take that very seriously.”

Cyclingnews also reached out to the U.S. Center for SafeSport to request more information regarding a possible complaint filed in relation to a rider or staff member connected to Cynisca Cycling, however, the organisation has not responded prior to publishing.

Transgender women are currently permitted to compete in the women's category in cycling in accordance with the policies set by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and USA Cycling, and the guidance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), policies that govern Cynicsa Cycling as a UCI licenced team in the US.

The UCI’s most recent guidelines came into effect in 2022, which stipulate that transgender women athletes must declare that their gender identity is female, demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 2.5 nmol/L for a period of at least 24 months, and then remain at 2.5nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.


The UCI announced in May that it will reopen consultation with riders and national federations on the subject of transgender athlete participation in cycling events with three main objectives: Considering trans athletes' desire to participate in sports, Hearing the voices and concerns of female athletes, and Considering the evolution of scientific knowledge.

The federation aims to open discussions at the next UCI Committee Meeting at Glasgow World Championships in August.

A representative of Cynisca Cycling told Cyclingnews that it would continue its role in developing women at events on the international calendar.

"In a testament to the quality of our riders, staff, sponsors, and supporters, we have had continuous and incredible support for our original mission. Our mission has been and always will be that of advancing women at all levels of cycling and doing so in a framework of equality, fairness and tolerance. Despite the negativity fostered by Ms. Thompson, we are succeeding and will push forward faster without her."



Cynisca Cycling launched last July 2022 in partnership with USA Cycling, appointing Clignet as the sports director. It outlined its objective as a "new exclusively women's team dedicated to advancing women in cycling on and off the bike" as a US-registered Continental team based in Château de Saint-Martory, France.

Clignet, a former world champion, is also the co-president of both the French Association of Female Cyclists (AFCC) and the CIC - Tour Féminin International des Pyrénées, and assistant director at CPA Women.

She is part of the Union Cycliste Feminine, which also opposes transgender women from competing in the women's category of sport.


Cynisca Cycling told Cyclingnews that Clignet joined to help develop the programme, giving riders opportunities in racing and competition at the international level. The team also told Cyclingnews that despite Clignet's public position on opposing transgender athlete participation in the women's category, that is not why they parted ways. Cynisca did not disclose the details as to why Clignet was no longer part of the team.

Clignet told Cyclingnews that she felt they did not part ways on good terms and that during her time at Cynicsa Cycling, she experienced what she alleged as “rude” and “aggressive” behaviour from staff members and that she was “treated differently, bullied, ghosted when I reached out, and shown little respect.” Clignet alleged the situation worsened at a team camp in what she called a “toxic environment” where a member of the board told her that she was “fired” from the team.

“No one deserves to be treated the way we were treated. I was lied to and used for my experience and knowledge of pro racing, my contacts with sponsors, and race organisers, and to get the team into European races. Inga was ostracized from almost the very beginning and was simply used for her name recognition,” Clignet said.

“It has taken me months to process this as I was super excited about this project and wanted to make a change for the better at this level in women's cycling. I am so disappointed these goals have not been met and the present dysfunctionality of the team. There are some really good riders on the team who have lots of potential and a very short career span – I fear this experience has wasted an invaluable and irreplaceable year of their careers.”


Clignet stated that the team management knew about her's and Thompson's positions on opposing transgender women in the women's category of sport and their "objective to protect the women's category".

"A condition of [Inga Thompson] joining was that she would be allowed to keep advocating for women in women’s sports, but that she needed to keep it separate from Cynisca," Clignet said.

Cyclingnews contacted Cynisca Cycling, and the team denied that it accepted Clignet's and Thompson's views on transgender exclusion from the women's category prior to bringing them on board. The team also refuted Clignet’s allegations of "bullying" and a "toxic environment" but has declined to comment on the specific reasons for her departure from the team, citing an agreement between the two parties not to do so.