Five women’s UCI continental teams to watch in 2021

WorldTeams may get more attention, but continental teams help deepen the field.

Photo: Bram Berkien / Jumbo-Visma

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With bigger names, more resources, and automatic invites to all Women’s WorldTour races, the nine UCI Women’s WorldTeams tend to command most of the attention during racing season. However, at any given time there are 41 continental teams vying for a spot in the peloton, and some of them are at almost every start line. Here are a few to look out for and why.

Ceratizit-WNT ProCycling

Ceratizit-WNT ProCycling’s Lisa Brennauer was the only rider not from a WorldTeam in the top ten in last weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad — the German national champion finished seventh.

2021 Ceratizit-WNT team
Photo: Courtesy Ceratizit-WNT

This German squad had a breakout year in 2019; first, Brennauer and Dutch teammate Kirsten Wild toted home five medals from the track world championships in Poland. Then, the team won its first UCI Women’s WorldTour race at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne with Wild (who won the bunch sprint after a big lead out from Brennauer). Three days later, Wild also won Gent-Wevelgem, becoming the first rider to win the Belgian spring classic twice.

This year, Englishwoman Lizzy Banks joins the squad; in the shortened 2020 season, she had some particularly strong showings at the Giro Rosa (first, stage four), GP de Plouay (second), and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (sixth). One to watch on the track? 22-year old Franziska Brauße dominates the individual pursuit.

Founded: 2014
Manager: Carmen Small
Bike: Orbea

Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank

The longest-running women’s team in North America, Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank is a familiar presence in the Women’s WorldTour. The California-based squad has long produced national champions and won best-of’s — in 2008, Tibco was VeloNews’ Team of the Year, and in 2020, Lauren Stephens was our North American Rider of the Year.

Stephens is back for her ninth year with the team and will be building on a very successful 2020 campaign. She dominated Zwift e-racing and achieved a career win at Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche. Another rider to watch is Sarah Gigante. The Australian national time trial champ, Gigante also finished second at the first-ever UCI Cycling Esports World Championships.

Some of the ladies of Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at the 2021 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Photo: Anton Vos

The squad is rounded out by stalwart Colombian rider Diana Peñuela, and newcomers Tanja Erath and American ‘cross star Clara Honsinger.

Founded: 2006
Manager: Linda Jackson
Bike: Cannondale

Team Jumbo-Visma Women

Team Jumbo-Visma Women may be the newest kid on the block, but it will be led by one of the most experienced women in the peloton. Marianne Vos, 33, will be leading a young team into its first season in the peloton. Vos will certainly be a favorite at many of the races during the season, but there is plenty of young talent to go around on the new Dutch squad.

Marianne Vos
Vos in her new colors. Photo: Courtesy Jumbo-Visma Photo: Jumbo Visma

One rider to watch is German Romy Kasper, who finished tenth at Tuesday’s Le Samyn des Dames, a race she has historically done very well at.

Speaking of Le Samyn des Dames, Jip van den Bos, who joins Jumbo-Visma from Boels-Dolmans, won the race in 2019 and finished third at that year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. And, keep an eye out for time trialist Julie Van de Velde, who comes to the team after four years at Lotto Soudal Ladies.

Founded: 2021
Manager: Esra Tromp
Bike: Cervélo

Rally Cycling Women

In their ubiquitous orange kit, the riders from Rally Cycling Women are easy to spot in the peloton. Although plans didn’t materialize for the American squad to travel to Europe for the March races, keep an eye out for orange in April.

This year, a new addition to the team is Clara Koppenburg, who at just 25 years old, is one of the most experienced riders at Rally. The German is entering her seventh season as a professional cyclist and had some excellent results in 2019 before her last season was derailed by injury.

Koppenburg joined the Rally men’s team training camp in Spain earlier this year. Photo: Rally Cycling

On the track, Americans Emma White and Lily Williams are members of the U.S. team pursuit squad that won gold at the world championships in February of 2020. They also both have good results racing on the road at home; White is a two-time stage winner at the Tour of the Gila.

Founded: 2012
Manager: Andrew Bajadali; assistant manager Joanne Kiesanowski
Bike: Felt

Drops-Le Col

If you’ve been following the sport for the past five years, you know that this a team with resilience. Despite some major sponsorship drama, the leadership at Drops-Le Col has proven that this is a team worth fighting for.

Dropping like its hot. Photo: LeCol

Although only a few months into 2021, the British squad has already seen some impressive results. At Tuesday’s Le Samyn des Dames, Dutch rider Marjolein van’t Geloof finished fifth. On February 10th, British rider Joss Lowden set a new unofficial women’s hour record, laying down 48.160 kilometers during a training session.

Founded: 2015
Manager: Bob Varney
Bike: Ribble

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.