What is going on at Team BikeExchange?

With three riders signed and ten either departing, retiring, or without contracts, the situation at Team BikeExchange is not looking good.

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When the UCI released the list of teams applying or reapplying for WorldTeam status earlier in the week Team BikeExchange was on the list. They were listed as BikeExchange-Jayco, a familiar name for anyone in Australian cycling and another piece of Gerry Ryan’s business portfolio, along with BikeExchange. Still, nearly to the end of October, Team BikeExchange has yet to announce a single new or returning rider for 2022, while hemorrhaging much of its top talent.

What we have seen is a mass exodus of top riders from BikeExchange, the most notable Grace Brown. Brown was the team’s top rider of the season with WorldTour victories at Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne and the Vuelta a Burgos. She finished on the podium of the Tour of Flanders and both Australian national championships and finished fourth in the time trial at the Olympic Games in Toyko.

It was a shock when the news hit that Brown would be joining the French team FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope. It’s natural for a rider to move on from a team they’ve maybe outgrown, and Brown had been part of the variations of Team BikeExchange since 2019. Still, you’d think they would want to hold on to her kind of talent.

On top of the departure of Brown, it was announced that Sarah Roy would join Canyon-SRAM after seven years with the Australian team. She joined in 2015 when they were still Orica-AIS and stuck with them through their best years. One of the team’s youngest riders, Jessica Roberts, was named to Team Coop-Hitec Products for the 2022 season.

Janneke Ensing, who rode with the team for two years, announced she would retire at the end of the 2021 season. After spending her entire career on her home-nation team Lucy Kennedy also announced she would retire at the end of the season.

It’s unclear what is going on with the contracts of the five riders who haven’t announced retirement or new squads for 2022; Jessica Allen, Ane Santesteban, Moniek Tenniglo, Georgia Williams, and Urška Žigart.

It’s not all bad news. As of publishing time, Team BikeExchange has three riders signed for the 2022 season, all of whom signed multi-year contracts that included the 2022 season. Teniel Campbell, who joined the team in 2021, Arianne Fidanza, also a new signee in 2021, and Amanda Spratt, the team’s longest-running member. Spratt was expected to take up the mantle of team leader when Annemiek van Vleuten left at the end of 2020 but was diagnosed with iliac artery endofibrosis during the 2021 season.

Ryan’s continued financial backing (now via Jayco) ensures the team will continue for at least another year, and CyclingTips understands two additional signings are in the works. But the team is unquestionably in a rebuilding phase. With Spratt sidelined, hopefully temporarily, BikeExchange is without a marquee rider. At the moment, it doesn’t have enough riders to complete a World Tour season.

The situation at Team BikeExchange sure looks curious, and not entirely positive for Australia’s only women’s WorldTeam.

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