Tanja Erath (29) Canyon-SRAM Racing
While her age might seem surprising on a list of ‘up-and-comers,’ Tanja Erath is only in her second season as a professional cyclist. Living in Germany and practicing medicine, 2018 marked a whirlwind for Erath as she won the Zwifth Academy Women, earning herself a contract with Canyon-SRAM. She left her home and relocated to the cycling hotbed of Girona, proving herself amongst her teammates and thus being offered a contract renewal for 2019. Described by fellow teammate Tiffany Cromwell as “always eager to learn, ask questions and take in all the feedback – both positive and negative – she isn’t content with just sitting back and being an ‘average’ rider.” Despite the sharp learning curve in her first season, her racing is marked by the incredible bursts of power she’s able to produce, giving her major potential to distinguish herself as a sprinter when her time comes.
Grace Brown (26) Mitchelton-SCOTT
Another woman who came later to cycling, Grace Brown has wasted no time making a name for herself. Three years ago, she has never ridden a bike and now the 26-year-old Australian is among the new signings for Mitchelton-SCOTT women, following a stand-out 2018 that saw her officially join the professional peloton in Europe. She spent her earlier years running, but after a string of injuries, and her father’s voice in her ear saying she’d be better suited to cycling, she decided to get a bike. She’s been learning and improving rapidly ever since and finished off her breakthrough year by supporting Amanda Spratt to the silver medal at the world championships. She is looking to 2019 as an opportunity for further growth, and expressed her enthusiasm in a team press release, stating “I’m really excited to be stepping up into the professional peloton with Mitchelton-SCOTT. It’s going to be a huge learning curve for me, but I’m looking forward to really challenging myself.” Sentiments echoed by the team’s sport director, Martin Vestby, who described Brown as “a rider we see we can develop, refine some of her skills to give her some real strengths, and take some really good steps in the coming years.”
Skylar Schneider (20) Boels-Dolmans
For years, Skylar Schneider was best known as the younger part of “the Schneider Sisters” duo alongside her older sister, Samantha, who was dominant on the American scene. Things started to really heat up for Skylar in 2016 when she took the silver medal in the junior women’s road race and fourth in the junior women’s time trial at the World Championships, going on to win stage 6 at the 2017 Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour. Last year, at just 19 years of age, American Skylar Schneider got the phone call that pretty much all aspiring competitive road cyclists dream of – an offer to join one of the biggest women’s professional cycling team in the world – Boels-Dolmans. Signed for another year, Schneider might not have had the legs to factor into the finale in every World Tour race in 2018, but that is likely to change as she rides into her second year in cycling’s top echelon. Schneider has proven that she’s capable of a fast finish, so once she’s built the endurance for the longer distances, she could very likely have what it takes to become a winner.
Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig (23) Cervélo-Bigla
Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig, with her engaging personality and fierce advocacy for the sport, has established herself as a force to be reckoned with. Although she’s been on the scene for a few years, this fiery Danish rider is only 23 and is still looking to win her first World Tour Race. Her racing and attitude have piqued the interest of many within the cycling community, and the passion she invoked at last year’s La Course earned her a spot in the hearts of many a cycling enthusiast. Eager to admit her mistakes and work to learn from them, she’s got the unique combination of dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm, not to mention talent, that should hopefully see her go a long way. Her positivity and zeal are a true pleasure to witness, and after agreeing to extend her contract with Cervélo-Bigla in 2019, she joyfully proclaimed, “I’m so motivated and happy to get this opportunity. This is such a special project driven by passionate and competent people.” For her hunger, commitment, and sheer love of the sport, there’s no doubt that she’ll give us more reasons to keep an eye on her in 2019.
Letizia Paternoster (19) Trek-Segafredo Women
Capturing the first win for the new Trek-Segafredo women’s team by taking the opening stage of the Santos Women’s Down Under, Italy’s rising young talent has started the season off strong. When it was announced that she would be joining the star-studded World Tour team alongside the likes of Lizzie Deignan, Ellen Van Dijk, Elisa Longo Borghini and Trixi Worrack, Paternoster commented that, “now I have a new opportunity to keep growing and learning from a group of strong and competitive teammates.” She is already a multiple junior European and world champion on the track and has won titles in numerous disciplines. Now racing for a team directed by two women, former sprinters Ina Teutenberg and Giorgia Bronzini, she has the opportunity to continue honing her skills among some of the best cyclists on the road.