After eight years with GreenEDGE Cycling, Jess Allen is going into the New Year with an exciting new challenge still as part of the team for 2024.
The 30-year-old, who announced her retirement as a professional cyclist at the end of last season, will work as a press officer for Team Jayco AlUla and Liv AlUla Jayco. She will also attend several races this season as a sport director for the elite women’s team and the new Liv AlUla Jayco Continental Team.
Allen is looking forward to taking up her new roles within the familiar surroundings of the GreenEDGE cycling family.
“It’s super nice, and in a way, it doesn’t feel like I’m retiring,” she admitted. “I think if I was to do something completely different, or with another team, that maybe I’d feel a bit different, but it feels very natural. It’s nice to still be part of the GreenEDGE family, but in a different role and use the experiences I’ve had as a rider as a staff member.”
“One of the things I love most about being a cyclist is the people you meet the places you go. We did a media camp with GreenEDGE in Barcelona in November, and that was awesome, because I got to meet new people and meet the team I’m working for next year. That’s the most important thing to me. I want to be in a job where I can still be part of a team. Even though I won’t be racing, you’re still one team and it was really cool to meet everyone plan next year.”
Allen had not originally planned on quitting racing at the end of 2023. She had the option of a racing contract on the table and a choice to make. However, her passion for the sport and her creativity made her an ideal candidate as GreenEDGE Cycling looked to expand its media team for the new season.
When the new idea was posited to her over the summer, Allen soon realised she was ready for something new and it was time to make a change. After taking some time to ruminate on the offer, she made the bold decision to end her racing career and join the team’s staff.
Allen’s first race as a press officer for the team will be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race at the end of January, where she will look after both men’s and women’s teams.
“It’s been on the back of my mind the last couple of years as to when I would retire. I thought it’d be in a few more years, but it was during the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift where I decided that this is going to be my last year,” she said.
“It wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it. I loved being at the Tour de France, but I was on the start line one day and just looking around and Gracie Elvin was doing media work, there was Annette Edmondson doing management work and Jolien D’hoore doing directing. And then I thought, ‘Oh, doing something in the sport outside of racing is actually exciting me more than racing now’. And so that’s when that first really crossed my mind.”
“After the tour, I sat down with my manager and she mentioned to me that the team were looking at someone to work in the communications department and my name got mentioned. Straightaway, I was like that excites me way more than racing!” she reflects.
The idea to add sport director to her new list of skills came later, but the role was an opportunity that was too good to give up. Going into 2024, Allen will do a small selection of races for the two women’s teams, starting with the UAE Tour Women in February.
“I didn’t plan on being a sport director and I didn’t think I wanted to be, but the application came up and I decided to apply for the scholarship and see if I get it. It might be good just to have on the resume!” she admits. “I ended up getting the scholarship, which was really cool. I went to Switzerland, did the course, passed. That was super fun because there was a lot of recently retired men and women there and it was nice to talk to them about their experiences, and go through the process together.”
In addition to her work with the GreenEdge Cycling teams, Allen will also take up a new role with AusCycling, mentoring young riders from Australia. The role starts in earnest at the women’s Santos Tour Down Under and will also include leading the U19 Women for a month-long stint in Europe, as well as at world championships in September.
“When that job opportunity popped up, I was really excited, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be able to work in with the team because I’d already committed to being a press officer and sport director with the team, but we’ve managed to juggle it well,” Allen said.
“It’s going to be a busy year for me, but the thought of helping juniors particularly because I was there, particularly the under-19s. I won a junior world title, so I know what it’s like to be them and what it’s like come to Europe for the first time, living out of home and being in that team environment.”
“Working with the juniors is going to be fantastic and to use all the experience I have to help them. Working with GreenEDGE and AusCycling, particularly the U19s, is a good way to see the up-and-coming talent in Australia and then hopefully have them come into our development team in the future as well.”
With this set of new roles, Allen looks to have a challenging yet thrilling season ahead of her. Far from being a new season away from racing, Allen will be in the thick of the action and helping others to achieve their dreams.