ICYMI: Emma Cecilie Norsgaard has already made a mark on 2021
With the first couple of women’s races out of the way, a picture of the 2021 peloton is starting to take shape. Although SD Worx has dominated the racing there is one rider who has been consistent and impressive each time she has lined up to compete, and that is Emma Cecilie Norsgaard. The Danish national champion has nearly been top 5 at every race she’s started, with the only exception being the first stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour. What’s even more exciting is her next three races catering perfectly to her strengths, so it would not be surprising to see the streak continue.
To kick off the season Norsgaard doubled up with 2nd at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Le Samyn. At the first she won the bunch sprint behind Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, the second she was only beat by Lotte Kopecky, a rider who is truly coming into her own on the road.
If OHN and Le Samyn weren’t impressive enough, Norsgaard’s consistency at the Healthy Ageing Tour should be turning the heads of her competitors. In the first stage sprint, she was just outside the top 10, it looked as though in the hectic final run into the line she was just pinched in the final chicane and it put her in the wrong position, behind the crash of Lorena Wiebes.
She came back in an absurdly windy stage 2 time trial to take 4th on the day, behind Ellen van Dijk, a rider 13 years her senior who has been racing for even longer than their age difference, Amy Pieters, another legend of women’s cycling with numerous wins under her belt, and Lisa Brennauer, 2014 ITT world champion.
The final stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour was the day Norsgaard solidified her place as a top rider to be. She was in the break from the word go. The whole day ended up being a horrendous weather experience, and the course slowly picked off many more experienced riders than Norsgaard. Norsgaard made every selection as the race widdled down the field to only the favorites. On the final ascent of the Vam-berg Norsgaard was the first to attack the leaders, with only Brennauer able to follow. She finished 2nd on the stage, 3rd overall, and as the best young rider.
If her riding wasn’t impressive enough Norsgaard’s soft-spoken and generally happy demeanour is enough to make anyone a fan. In a recent interview with the Freewheeling Podcast, she spoke of how she had started Omloop Het Nieuwsblad thinking she would be riding for her teammates, and when the race came down to the final kilometres she found herself the only one left. “It was a really great race. It was aggressive and it was hard and for me that was perfect because then the fastest girls were no longer in the small group and that’s better for me, because I’m probably not the fastest fastest,” Norsgaard said.
Norsgaard didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. In 2020 she won the Danish national championships, potentially one of the hardest nationals to win away from the Dutch. She was also third in the final spring at Omloop van het Hageland, the 1.1 that follows Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in a normal year, behind Lorena Wiebes and Marta Bastianelli. She’s won the opening stage of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. The years leading up to 2021 reak of untapped potential and the first five race days of 2021 are a glimpse of that potential meeting hard work.
It helps that Norsgaard joined a new team for 2021. For three years Norsgaard rode for the various versions of Bigla Pro Cycling until she signed for Movistar Team midway through the 2020 season. Norsgaard joined the likes of Leah Thomas and Annemiek van Vleuten to elevate Movistar to new heights. Clearly, the Spanish team made a fantastic call bringing the young rider into their team.
“It’s a really nice group of girls and I feel like already we bond really well during the races and even though they don’t know me, they are still willing to sacrifice themselves for having a result on behalf of the team and it’s really nice to be part of,” Norsgaard told Freewheeling.
Norsgaard will next line up in three of the Belgian races, the 1.Pro Danilith Nokere Koerse and the two WorldTour races; Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. Both De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem are promising for Norsgaard who clearly thrives in brutal weather, crosswinds, and bunch sprints. One thing is abundantly clear: Norsgaard is one to watch, for many years to come.