The transfer carousel comes to a stop: could we see a more level playing field in the Women’s WorldTour?
As the year is coming to an end, so is the transfer season. Contracts have been inked, and by now most teams and riders have announced their 2017 plans. There have been a fair bit of rider switcharoos, the announcement of a new WorldTour team and some exciting changes in UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
After a short break many riders are already working toward the 2017 season as the first big UCI event, the Ladies Tour of Qatar, is just two-and-a-half months away.
Now that the transfer carousel is slowing to a stop, let’s take a look at what we can expect in 2017. At first glance, it may look like the Boels-Dolmans team is once again the team to beat. With 16 wins, Boels-Dolmans simply dominated the 2016 UCI Women’s WorldTour and they’ve added more starpower in Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen while Amalie Dideriksen ensured that the rainbow stripes remain within the orange squad.
However, after some transfers the top riders are getting more and more divided over several teams, which means that the playing field could be leveling out and make the racing even more exciting next year. Just think about a race in which Ellen van Dijk, Anna van der Breggen, Kasia Niewiadoma, Thalita de Jong, Annemiek van Vleuten, Elisa Longo-Borghini and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot are all battling each other!
Here is an overview of the top-ranked WorldTour teams and their 2017 rosters.
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
New on the roster: Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, Amy Pieters and youngster Jip van den Bos
As a Dutch-registered team, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team will stay true to its Dutch identity in 2017 as it has added three Dutchwomen with most notably Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen among them.
Boels-Dolmans did lose powerhouse TT specialist Ellen van Dijk to Liv-Plantur, Demi de Jong to Parkhotel Valkenburg, Germany’s Romy Kasper to Ale Cipollini, and retired Evelyn Stevens, but it’s certainly not lacking in starpower.
In 2017, the Boels-Dolmans’ roster includes the defending UCI Women’s WorldTour champion (Megan Guarnier), Olympic road race champion (Anna van der Breggen) and world champion (Amalie Dideriksen).
Choosing the rider to work for, could become a challenge.
“It’s all about respect, trust, professionalism and communication,” assured Boels-Dolmans DS Danny Stam. “But we will only know after 2017 if it worked.”
“Realistically, it’s almost impossible to perform even better as a team next year, but I know that these ladies could surprise me,” Stam continued. “Then again, all teams start afresh in a new year, and we are going to work really hard to match up to or outdo this year.”
The 2017 roster:
Jip van den Bos (from Parkhotel Valkenburg)
Anna van der Breggen (from Rabo-Liv) – Olympic road race champion
Amalie Dideriksen – World Champion
Megan Guarnier – Defending UCI Women’s WorldTour leader, #1 ranked rider in the world
Amy Pieters (from Wiggle-High5)
WM3 Pro Cycling
The new team of Marianne Vos
For a long time, there was uncertainty about the continuation of Marianne Vos’ team in 2017. Rabobank had announced to pull away from the sport at the end of the season, and although everyone assumed it would be no problem for the biggest star in women’s cycling to find new sponsors for her team, both the team and Vos herself kept quiet for a long time.
In the meantime, big named riders like Anna van der Breggen, Roxane Knetemann and Thalita de Jong announced they had found homes with other teams, and even DS Koos Moerenhout announced a switch to men’s cycling in 2017.
Finally, in late September, word came that Vos would be captaining a new team temporarily named Fortitude Pro Cycling. Kasia Niewiadoma and four other Rabo teammates would join her in this Rabo continuation, and five new riders were signed with Lauren Kitchen (Team Hitec), Valentina Scandolara (Cylance Pro Cycling) and Riejanne Markus (Liv-Plantur) among them.
This month, the team found a long term title sponsor in WM3 Energie, that will support Vos and her teammates through the 2020 Olympics, and it was also announced that former pro cyclist and team director Jeroen Blijlevens has signed a two-year contract to join WM3 Pro Cycling as Directeur Sportif.
The 2017 roster:
Rotem Gafinovitz (turning pro)
Lauren Kitchen (from Team Hitec)
Anouska Koster – Dutch national road race champion
Riejanne Markus (from Liv-Plantur)
Kasia Niewiadoma – Polish road and TT champ, defending UCI Women’s WorldTour young rider
Anna Plichta (from BTC City Ljubljana)
Valentina Scandolara (from Cylance Pro cycling)
Marianne Vos – 12-time world champion
Fewer sprinters, more support
The team of Australian DS Rochelle Gilmore left it quite late to reveal their 2017 roster. Ten women have renewed their contracts – including Giorgia Bronzini and Emma Johansson, who had originally planned to retire after 2016 – , five new names have been added to roster, and sprinters Amy Pieters and Chloe Hosking have found new homes at other teams.
Among the five riders joining WiggleHigh5 in 2017 are some familiar names. Donning the black and orange in 2017 are Crescent Vårgårda road race winner Emilia Fahlin (from Alé Cipollini), former Danish Champion Julie Leth (from Team Hitec), German Champion and climbing specialist Claudia Lichtenberg (from Lotto Soudal Ladies), Australian track cyclist Amy Cure and British up-and-comer Grace Garner.
“I’m extremely excited about the 5 new additions to Wiggle High5 for 2017, the team was selected and strengthened very carefully and strategically with the input of our current athletes and staff,” said Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling Team Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore. “We’re a very close, united, family style team and believe very much in the strength of our roster for 2017.”
“We’ve created a team very capable of winning the WorldTour,” Gilmore aded. “And we’ll focus on the specific individual World Tour events most important to our partners and their markets.”
The 2017 roster:
Giorgia Bronzini – two-time world road race champion
Amy Cure (from the Australian national team)
Jolien D’Hoore – multi-time Belgian track and road champion
Emilia Fahlin (from Ale Cipollini)
Grace Garner (from Podium Ambition)
Julie Leth (from Team Hitec)
Claudia Lichtenberg (from Lotto-Soudal)
Emma Johansson – multi-time national Swedish champion, Olympic road race silver medalist
Elisa Longo Borghini – Italian national TT champion, Olympic road race bronze medalist
Cylance Pro Cycling
American team adds sprint power in Kirsten Wild, Joëlle Numainville and Dani King
Building on their successful inaugural year, the American-registered Cylance Pro Cycling Team is significantly bolstering their roster for the 2017 season with the signing of two of the best sprinters in the women’s peloton, Kirsten Wild and Dani King.
Cylance emerged on the Women’s WorldTour scene as a brand new team this year and had a decent amount of success with Top 10 finishes across Europe and the United States. For 2017, Cylance is shooting for the podium by adding the talent and experience of two former world champions and Olympians.
Dutch powerhouse Kirsten Wild was the first to announce the switch to the American team, leaving Hitec Products in the process. Widely considered the best sprinter in the peloton, Wild, 33, is a two-time Olympian and former world champion.
Adding to Wild’s sprint power, Cylance has also signed fellow track racer Dani King. The Brit is a three-time world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the team pursuit, as well as a former British national champion in the individual pursuit.
But since signing for Wiggle-High5 in 2013, King, who’s still only 25 years old, has shifted her focus more to road racing where she’s known not only for her powerhouse sprint but also for being a valuable domestique.
Also joining the green team are Willeke Knol (from Lotto-Soudal), Joëlle Numainville (Cervélo-Bigla), American cyclocrosser Kaitlyn Antonneau (from Twenty16-RideBiker) and Margorzata Jasinska (Ale Cipollini).
Kaitlyn Antonneau (from Twenty16-RideBiker)
Malgorzata Jasinksa (from Ale Cipollini)
Danielle King (from Wiggle-High5) – three-time world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the team pursuit
Willeke Knol (from Lotto-Soudal)
Joëlle Numainville (from Cervélo-Bigla)
Kirsten Wild (from Team Hitec) – is a two-time track Olympian and former world champion
More diversity with addition of Brit Ciara Horne, American Allie Dragoo and two Danish girls
There were already six nationalities within the Cervélo-Bigla team in 2016, and they’ve added even more diversity by adding British rider Ciara Horne and American Allie Dragoo to their roster. They also signed Danish riders Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marie Villman, as well as Christina Perchtold from Austria for 2017.
Confirmed riders for 2017:
Allie Dragoo (from Twenty16-Ridebiker)
Lotta Lepistö – Finnish road and time trial champion
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio – Muti-time South African and African Continental road and TT champiom
Christina Perchtold (from Vitalogic-Astrokalb)
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (from BSM Birn)
Marie Vilmann (from BMS Birn)
Offering former multi-disciplinary world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot a fresh start
After five years with Rabo-Liv, multi-discipline world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot abruptly ended her 2016 season during the Rio Olympics, after a year of bad luck and injuries. Her return to the bike (for training) was combined with the announcement that she would be joining Canyon-SRAM for a fresh start in 2017.
Ferrand-Prevot is the only confirmed new rider at the moment. We do know that she will be joined by at least one additional new name: whichever lucky amateur rider wins the Zwift Academy.
The full 2017 roster will be announced soon. For now there’s only the lone Française on the 2017 rider list:
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (from Rabo-Liv) – former road, cyclocross and mountain bike world champion
Just one foreign rider in the Aussie team
American Tayler Wiles was told at the end of the 2016 season that the Australian-registered team had budget for just one foreign rider ahead of the 2017 season, and the team had chosen Dutch TT specialist Annemiek van Vleuten. So while Wiles was left looking for a new home, the majority of the squad remained unchanged. Wiles’ spot was replaced with young Aussie talent Georgia Baker.
The 2017 roster:
Georgia Baker (turning pro)
Katrin Garfoot – Australian and Oceania TT champion, world championship TT bronze medalist
Amanda Spratt – Australian nation road race champion
Annemiek van Vleuten – Dutch national TT champion
Team Sunweb (formerly Liv-Plantur)
New name and increased strength with Ellen van Dijk, Coryn Rivera and Lucinda Brand
Liv-Plantur will continue with new title sponsor Sunweb next year, and they’re bolstering their roster significantly.
It appears that the team is looking to increase its strength across the board, having added American sprinter Coryn Rivera (from United Healthcare), time trial specialist Ellen van Dijk (from Boels-Dolmans) and cyclocrosser and all-rounder Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv) to their 2017 roster. Each of these riders bring great expertise and will be of great value and mentorship to the team.
Continuing their emphasis on development, Sunweb has also added two junior women to the team: Juliette Labous from France and Liane Lippert from Germany. Lippert is the U19 European time trial champion and finished 9th in Qatar at the U19 world championships road race, while Labous took bronze at the U19 world time trial championships.
The 2017 roster:
Lucinda Brand (from Rabo-Liv)
Ellen van Dijk (from Boels-Dolmans) – former TT world champion, current European TT champion
Leah Kirchmann – UCI Women’s WorldTour runner-up
Juliette Labous (turning pro)
Liane Lippert (turning pro)
Floortje Mackaij – UCI Women’s WorldTour Young Rider runner-up
Coryn Rivera (from United Healthcare)
A new home for Aussies Chloe Hosking and Carlee Taylor
Ale Cipollini had their biggest win in a long time this past August when Swedish rider Emilia Fahlin won the Women’s WorldTour Vårgårda road race. While Fahlin will return to Wiggle-High5 in 2017, the neon team has added five strong riders to their 2017 roster, with sprinter Chloe Hosking among them.
The biggest rider to join the team, Hosking specifically chose Ale Cipollini for the team’s willingness to let her combine her life as a pro cyclist with her studies back home in Australia. Hosking had a career-best season in 2016 and we’re excited what she can do for the neon team, which looks more international than it has in the past.
Hosking will be joined by fellow Australian Carlee Taylor (from Liv-Plantur), German Romy Kasper (from Boels-Dolmans), Belgian Anischa Vekemans (from Lotto-Soudal), Lithuanian Daiva Tuslaite (from Inpa-Bianchi), Dutch rider Janneke Ensing (from Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Italian Martina Stefani (from Top Girls Fassa Bortolo).
The 2017 roster:
Marta Bastianelli – former world champion
Janneke Ensing (from Parkhotel Valkenburg)
Chloe Hosking (from Wiggle-High5)
Romy Kasper (from Boels-Dolmans)
Soraya Paladin (from Top Girls Fassa Bortolo)
Martina Stefani (from Top Girls Fassa Bortolo)
Carlee Taylor (from Liv-Plantur)
Daiva Tuslaite (from Inpa-Bianchi)
Anischa Vekemans (from Lotto-Soudal)
Scandinavian team adds Dutch talent
For 2017 Team Hitec loses its powerhouse sprinterKirsten Wild (to Cylance Pro Cycling), but acquires a new Dutch sprinter in the form of Nina Kessler, joining the team from Lensworld-Zannata.
She takes her friend and compatriot Ilona Hoeksma with her, who comes over from Parkhotel Valkenburg, to strengthen the team in 2017.
Confirmed riders for 2017:
Katrine Aalerud (turning pro)
Ingvild Gaskjenn (turning pro)
Ilona Hoeksma (from Parkhotel Valkenburg)
Nina Kessler (from Lensworld-Zannata)
Lotto Soudal Ladies
Your typical Benelux team
It looks like Lotto Soudal Ladies is going through quite the roster shake-up with Claudia Lichtenberg, Lieselot Decroix, Sofie De Vuyst, Willeke Knol, Susanna Zorzi and Anouk Rijff all leaving the Belgian squad. And thus far, only four new riders, all from Belgium and the Netherlands, have been announced to fill the spots.
The team will be made up of twelve riders in 2017 and we’re pretty sure we’ll be seeing more of the young sprinter and time trialist Lotte Kopecky after her stellar performance in Rio and on the track.
The 2017 roster:
Annelies Dom (from Lensworld-Zannata)
Lotte Kopecky – Belgian and European track champ
Puck Moonen (turning pro)
Kaat van der Meulen (from Lensworld-Zannata)
Trine Schmidt (from BMS Birn)
Leaves its French identity to sign Roxane Knetemann and Shara Gillow
The PC Futuroscope team was entirely French until they signed Japanese champion Eri Yonamine in August of this year. In 2017, they will move even further away from their French identity as they sign Roxane Knetemann and Shara Gillow, both from the dissolving Rabo-Liv team.
The team will partner with Français des Jeux (FDJ) in 2017 and 2018, under the “Sport pour Elles” program, which aims to promote women’s cycling on all levels, to change mindsets towards the sport and to increase media attention.
The 2017 roster:
Shara Gillow (from Rabo-Liv)
Roxane Knetemann (from Rabo-Liv)
Eri Yonamine – multi-time and multi-discipline Japanese champion
A new leadership role for world cyclocross champion Thalita de Jong
Only one team outside the top UCI ranking gets a mention in this article because it announced one of the most surprising transfers of the season: Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv).
After the multi-talented Dutch rider crowned herself world cyclocross champion in Heusden-Zolder this year, she went on to win the final stage in the Giro Rosa (while supporting team leader Anna van der Breggen to eventually finish 3rd in the GC), win the youth classification in the Ladies Tour of Norway and win two stages plus the points classification in the Giro del Trentino Alto Adige.
The 22-year-old has spent much of her five years with Rabo-Liv riding in support of Vos and Van der Breggen and she’s now ready to take on a lead role herself.
“Acting as a leader will be quite new to me. For the past few years, I’ve often had to survive during the first part of the race, so I could help our leaders in the end. Lares-Waowdeals wants to help me to go in to the final of the race and compete for the win myself.” said De Jong.
The new signings to the team makes Lares-Waowdeals the second biggest UCI team from Belgium, behind the Lotto Soudal Ladies, and as it stands, they make the top 20 of UCI women’s teams in 2017.
The 2017 roster:
Alice Cobb (turning pro)
Mieke Docx (turning pro)
Shana van Glabeke
Lotte van Hoek
Thalita de Jong (from Rabo-Liv)
Flavia Oliveira (from Lensworld-Zannata)
Monique van de Ree
Daniela Reis (turning pro)
Amelie Rivat-Mas (from PC Futuroscope ’86)
Saartje Vandenbroucke (from Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx)
Bryony van Velzen
Sofie De Vuyst (from Lotto-Soudal)
And some other new teams
You probably missed a couple of riders, that aren’t one of the teams mentioned above. Not all top UCI teams have announced their full rosters yet and of course some athletes will retire in 2017, but here are some names that will join a smaller team in 2017, therefore not having been mentioned in the teams above.
Anna Christian: from Wiggle-High5 to Drops Cycling Team
Sara Mustonen: from Liv-Plantur to BMS Birn
Anouk Rijff: from Lotto-Soudal to Lensworld-Kuota
Carmen Small: from Cyclance Pro Cycling to BMS Birn
Susanna Zorzi: from Lotto-Soudal to Drops Cycling Team
So what do you think? Could these transfers level out the playing field in 2017? What team are you eager to watch?