• Country

Big Updates from the Women’s Peloton!

By Megan Flottorp

As we cruise through the second half of the cycling season, there has been plenty of juggling going on regarding contracts within the women’s peloton. It shows that both the calibre of the sport is increasing, and that more teams are sprouting up as they fight to secure the top names to represent them. 

Indeed, all this action should make for some fascinating dynamics come 2022. Major shakeups and team jumps could mean we get a few big surprises from emerging teams, while some of the strongest in the game continue to establish dominance. So let’s take a look at who’s going where, what new teams will be joining the ranks, and a few key players to keep an eye on going forward.

Veteran British rider Hannah Barnes will be riding for the brand-new Uno-X Pro Cycling Team for the next two years

Hannah Barnes will be leaving her long-time team of Canyon-SRAM after signing a contract to race with the new Uno-X women’s team in 2022 and 2023. As a veteran of the sport, Barnes will take on a leadership role at the helm of a brand-new team. Uno-X will launch their women’s programme for the first time next season, and they aim to acquire a Women’s WorldTeam licence in 2022.

No doubt Barnes will be a big part of helping the team establish itself, offering her extensive racing experience to assist with the team’s development in their first two seasons.

“This is a very exciting time for Uno-X, and I am thrilled to be part of the women’s team from the beginning,” Barnes said in a press announcement.

Barnes has been racing professionally since 2014, when she got her start with UnitedHealthcare, but she’s been a mainstay in the Canyon-SRAM programme since 2016. Notable for her exceptional versatility, she is strong in sprints, on climbs, and in time trials.

Barnes’ current Canyon-SRAM teammate Hannah Ludwig has also signed a two-year contract with the new team and will be further be joined by Susanne Andersen, who is leaving Team DSM to join Uno-X Pro Cycling for the next two seasons.

U.S rider Leah Thomas is leaving the Movistar Team to join Trek-Segafredo for the next two seasons

Leah Thomas
Thomas during the women’s cycling road race at the 2020 Olympic Games. © Profimedia

Leah Thomas is among those recruited to fill the empty saddles on team Trek-Segafredo. She will depart from her current Movistar Team, having signed a new two-year contract with one of the top teams in the peloton.

“I’m really excited to race with Trek-Segafredo in the next two years because I feel like they approach every race with a plan, and I think they race cohesively as a team, all-in, with the goal of getting a top result,” Thomas said in a press statement. Indeed, her all-round abilities will serve the team well.

Australian rider Grace Brown has signed with FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope for the next two years

Certainly in high demand going into the 2022 season, Brown has had an exceptional year and has solidified her reputation as an aggressive and opportunistic rider. She took home the top spot at Brugge-De Panne and finished third at Tour of Flanders. She also claimed a third-place finish in the mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia Donne before representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games, competing in the road race and time trial, where she finished fourth place.

Brown in action during the individual time trial at the 2020 Olympics. © Profimedia

“[Brown] represents everything there is to love about cycling: boldness, pushing limits, dedication. In modern cycling, few cyclists dare to let their instincts express themselves as a priority, but Grace is one of them,” Stephen Delcourt, FDJ team manager, stated in a press release.

The French team is looking to build its success around an increased number of climbers in the squad and has voiced their keenness for having a standout performance at the women’s first-ever Tour de France in 2022.

Former British national road champ Jess Roberts will be joining Team Coop – Hitec Products from 2022.

Despite a relatively uneventful season due to injury, Roberts is hoping for a fresh start with a new team. Since her contract with Team BikeExchange is over, she wants to get back on track and set new goals. Roberts became the national champion in 2018. In 2019 she won two stages in the Tour de Bretagne—first in a bunch sprint and then a day later with a solo. So when she’s in form, she is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

The goal for Roberts and Team Coop – Hitec Products is to get her back to her old shape and develop further from there. “We are seeing how I progress over the next month, so my main goal for now will be to get myself back to full fitness and riding without pain. I hope to be able to race before the end of the season. Looking towards next season, I haven’t targeted any particular races at the moment, but I would like to achieve podium places on both the road and track.”

Australian rider Lucy Kennedy has announced her retirement from the sport

Many fans of the sport will be sorry to say goodbye to Lucy Kennedy, who has announced that she will retire from professional cycling at the end of the 2021 season. “It’s almost the end of a wild ride! I’ve decided that 2021 will be my last year as a professional cyclist as I shift my focus to different priorities,” Kennedy wrote in a post on Instagram.

Kennedy has been with Team BikeExchange for four years and has managed to accrue quite a list of accomplishments. Known as one of the strongest climbers in the world, she collected two overall victories at the Women’s Herald Sun Tour and an overall victory at the Tour de l’Ardeche. She has also won Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa and Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria, along with finishing second overall at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under, second in a stage at the Giro d’Italia Donne, and second at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

Lucy Kennedy
Kennedy announced 2021 will be her last cycling season. © Profimedia

You have a couple more chances to catch Kennedy racing before we say goodbye, though! She will be competing at the Challenge by La Vuelta on September 2-5 in Spain, and the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche held from September 8-14 in France.

Canyon//SRAM Racing has opened applications for its new development team

Looking towards the future of the sport, there is some exciting news from Canyon-SRAM. The squad has announced it will be building a new development team in 2022. It will be registered as a UCI Continental Team and will exist in addition to the Canyon//SRAM Racing Women’s WorldTour team. They’ve expressed a desire to make cycling more accessible to women around the world. As such, the team is also offering eight scholarships for the new Continental Team in 2022. The eight spots available will focus on riders from Africa, Asia, and South America.