Racing is already underway for the road season, although it may seem like some riders are still cleaning mud off their cyclocross bikes.
Excitement for this year will also be slow, given that the season is so long. The first race on the WorldTour calendar is the Strade Bianchi on March 5, and it won’t end until mid-October with the Tour of Guangxi.
Teams such as Movistar and Trek-Segafredo set the tone of the season in the early races, such as Setmana Ciclista Valenciana last week. Then there are the new teams being added to the Women’s WorldTour, such as Human Powered Health (formerly Rally Cycling) – not only are they new to the WorldTour, they are also relatively new to racing in Europe in general.
But with such a long season and with these new teams, which drivers can we expect to see in the lead? Of course, the most exciting thing about the women’s pro cycling peloton lately is its depth of talent. Consider the Olympics, where the relatively unknown Anna Kiesenhofer won gold, shocking the cycling world (and half the riders in the race). And as more and more teams jump in and create strong WorldTour programs for women, more and more riders have the support and backing to be able to show up full-time on the bike.
Here we share eight riders who should be podium regulars this season. But, of course, expect a few surprises as well.
Annemiek van Vleuten — Movistar
With the overall victory at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana already under his belt, van Vleuten is likely feeling solid for his next season. Any other year, it wouldn’t be a surprise: she won the silver medal in the Olympic road race and the gold medal in the time trial, among dozens of other podium finishes throughout the year. year and victory in the general classification of the WorldTour, but an accident in the fall. left her bedridden to recover from a broken pelvis. To return to racing so quickly – and so dominantly – is impressive, to say the least. And to do it at 39, well, it’s just mind-boggling.
Elisa Balsamo — Trek-Segafredo
Cycling is a fun sport to watch in part because of the huge age gaps between top contenders. While van Vleuten is approaching 40, Balsamo is only 23. Movistar wasn’t the only team to turn out to win the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana stage race: reigning world road champion and new Trek-Segafredo rider Elisa Balsamo opened the race with a finish in the sprint perfectly played, taking the victory. She also scored second on the final leg of the race.
Her stage racing history isn’t quite as impressive as her one-day race results, but with teammates like Elisa Longo-Borghini (also a rider to watch this season!) surrounding her, the young rider prepares for success as it matures. as a rider and adapts better to these longer events.
Mavi García — Team UAE ADQ
Formerly known as Alé BTC Ljubljana, the UAE ADQ team brought in some big names for the 2022 season, including three-time Spanish national champion García. At 38, she is one of the most mature riders in the peloton, but as van Vleuten shows, age can be an advantage in road racing. García has finished second for the last two years in the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche and won the Giro dell’Emilia Internazionale Donne Elite in 2021. Like Balsamo and van Vleuten, she also rode Setmana Ciclista Valenciana last week, finishing ninth overall.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig — FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
The 26-year-old finished second behind van Vleuten at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, showing how much her race has matured and that she will now be a force to be reckoned with in stage races as well as in the events of a day. Last season she finished second at La Course and finished in the top 10 in nearly every one-day race on the Women’s WorldTour calendar.
On FDJ, she’s backed by ultra-strong runners, including Grace Brown, which should further bolster her ability to compete in those lower events.
Demi Vollering — SD Worx
Demi Vollering is having the season of her life in 2021 – wins at La Course, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d’Italia Donne – and it’s not unreasonable to think she’ll have an even better 2022 season. That’s partly because SD Worx’s new team principal this season is none other than the recently retired Anna van der Breggen, arguably one of the GOATs of women’s cycling. Although having van der Bergen as a teammate probably helped Vollering get into the WorldTour, it’s hard to have two ultra-strong riders on a team because only one rider can win the race.
Vollering will now be the top dog on SD Worx, giving him the support and the mental edge in the races to come. And having someone as capable as van der Breggen calling the shots on the team radio will be an added bonus. While other WorldTour teams (Trek-Segafredo and Jumbo-Visma to name just two) are run by former riders, none are as recently retired as van der Breggen, and that intimate acquaintance of the peloton is sure to bear fruit.
Marianne Vos — Jumbo Visma
Speaking of GOAT… would it even be a women’s cycling list without Vos on it? The current (and multiple-time) cyclo-cross world champion has turned her attention to the road for the season. However, you could argue that she already had some road tactics in mind during CX worlds when she and Lucinda Brand did psychological sprint outings on the track on the final lap before Vos dominated the sprint.
She has yet to announce her full road race schedule for 2022, but we expect her to show up for major WorldTour races, including returning to a women’s version of the Tour de France with the Tour de France Women .
Lucinda Brand — Trek Segafredo
Like Vos, Brand may take a few extra weeks before joining the women’s road peloton – and deservedly so, after a second-place finish at the World Championships, overall World Cup victory and 20 cyclocross wins out of 32 races. during the season.
She probably won’t be leading the races as much during the road season, since Trek Segafredo is loaded with top women vying for the top spot, but having her on the team adds a strong climber capable of winning stages. mountain or globally Queen of the Mountain Rankings. She also brings cyclocross skills to the races, so for classics that include cobblestones (ahem, the second Paris-Roubaix Women) she has the edge.
Ruby Roseman Gannon — Team BikeExchange – Jayco
The 23-year-old Australian is a promising player in the women’s field and definitely one to watch this season. She hasn’t raced much in 2021 or 2020, but she finished second in the first stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana after dominating the criterium racing scene in Australia. (Unfortunately she also had a slight incident with a barrier in the next stage, but is thankfully relatively unscathed!) This is her first year on the WorldTour circuit, and she will be relatively new to international racing thanks to the pandemic. but it is probably that she will understand quickly.
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