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As the 2023 season fast approaches, there are many young riders nervously preparing for their debuts as professionals.
Next year will see a host of new talent joining the upper ranks of the pro peloton looking to prove themselves.
- FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope signs esports world champion Loes Adegeest
- Team DSM adds trio of young talent to women’s squad for 2023
- UCI Road World Championships: Zoe Bäckstedt celebrates birthday with double rainbow
Some, such as Zoe Bäckstedt, come with very high expectations already while others are less known but will be no less exciting to watch as they find their feet as elite riders.
VeloNews has pulled together a list of five riders to keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond.
Team: EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
Bäckstedt is probably one of the most hyped neo-pros ahead of the 2023 season and there’s a reason for it. She is set to turn pro with EF Education-TIBCO-SVB after a stint as a stagiaire this season. In her final year as a junior, Bäckstedt wrapped up four world titles in cyclocross, track, time trial, and road race. That was on top of a host of other victories she took throughout the season.
At 18, she will be one of the youngest riders on the WorldTour for next season but she has already shown that she can mix it with the top riders after finishing fifth at the Konvert Kortrijk Koerse in August. Her teammates have been full of compliments about her talents and her wise head on young shoulders. Still, a full season racing on the WorldTour will be a big step up and there is plenty of space for Bäckstedt to learn and improve.
Team: Team DSM
Rayer is one of a swath of young new signings for Team DSM for next year as the squad looks to secure its future following the departure of several major names over the winter. The French rider finished second to Bäckstedt in the junior road race at the UCI Road World Championships after making it into a late chase group. She has seen plenty of success this year and crowned her year with victory in the junior event at the Chrono des Nations time trial event, added to the junior French TT title, and victory in the European junior road race.
As well as being a strong time trialist, Rayer is a good climber and will be a good support rider for new teammate Juliette Labous. She may well get some of her own chances and it will be fascinating to see how she copes with the step up. With the talents that she has, Rayer has a good future as a strong stage racer on the cards.
Bauernfeind has been chipping away at building a cycling career and it has finally paid off with a two-year contract at Canyon-SRAM. Her move to the WorldTour comes after an impressive season with the Canyon-SRAM development squad.
Bauernfeind was the team’s top performer by a considerable margin thanks to a string of top results, such as third overall at the Ruta del Sol, third at the CIC-Tour Féminin Pyrénées, and a win at the Groupama Ladies Race Slovakia. She also took bronze medals in the inaugural U23 category in the time trial and road race at the worlds. She’s proved that she can keep up with some of the top riders in the pro peloton already and 2023 will be a chance to prove herself on a bigger scale.
At 26, Adegeest is not technically a neo-pro but she will be a newcomer to the WorldTour after signing a two-year deal with FDJ-Suez. Adegeest has taken a circuitous route to the top of the sport since making her debut on a UCI-registered team in 2019 with Parkhotel Valkenburg. The Dutch rider was only with the team for a season and would race at amateur level for the next two years.
She rose to the attention of the pro cycling world again when she won the esports world title ahead of Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio at the end of last year. She signed up with the Irish IBCT team for 2022 and showed some promising results, including fifth at the Lotto Belgium Tour and a stage win and second overall at the Tour de l’Ardèche. A growing number of riders are finding success out on the road having shown their talents in virtual racing and Adegeest has plenty of potential.
Team: SD Worx
Since bursting onto the UCI racing scene last year, Bredewold has grown into one of the top young talents in the peloton. Perhaps her biggest moment was finishing second in the youth category at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, taking 21st overall, but she had strong results all season. She took a memorable victory on the final stage of the Simac Ladies Tour and finished second overall at the AG Tour de la Semois after winning the first stage.
Joining SD Worx for next year is a major move for the 22-year-old and being around so many big names will not take the pressure off her to hit the ground running. SD Worx has shown itself as a good proving ground for young riders with the likes of Niamh Fisher-Black and Lonneke Uneken coming through its ranks. It will be interesting to see how Bredewold copes in the new environment, but her aggressive style of racing will fit in well.