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Lorena Wiebes is unstoppable. That’s not hyperbole. The 23-year-old sprinter is currently unmatched when it comes to a head-to-head drag race against the peloton’s fastest women and has a tally of 59 career wins to show for it.
A graduate of the highly-successful Parkhotel Valkenburg development squad, Wiebes joined DSM as a stagiaire in 2020 and it didn’t take long before she started delivering wins; first beating her future lead-out woman, Charlotte Kool, at Grote Prijs Euromat, and then winning Brugge-De Panne before taking a stage and third overall at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.
Impressively, De Panne and the Ceratizit Challenge were nowhere near the first Women’s WorldTour wins for the then-21-year-old. De Panne was her eighth WWT win after a 2019 season that saw her clean up at Tour of Chongming Island, take two stages of the Boels Ladies Tour, be crowned winner of the Prudential RideLondon Classique, and out-sprint Chloe Hosking on stage one of the Ladies Tour of Norway.
Wiebes’ first full season with DSM got off to a steadier start and while she took 10 victories in lower-ranked races (including two stages of the then-2.Pro Giro Donne) she would have to wait until October and The Women’s Tour before managing a WWT win. There, she took two back-to-back stages before being outdone by newly-crowned world champ Elisa Balsamo on the final stage before winning again at Ronde van Drenthe a few weeks later.
For 2022, Wiebes reached even greater heights. A successful Spring in Belgium started in early March with GP Oetingen before defending her Drenthe title, a second career win at Danilith Nokere Koerse followed before she staked her claim on the women’s Scheldeprijs, taking a second win in two editions.
But it was in May, at the WWT RideLondon Classique, that Wiebes really started to stamp her name on the 2022 season. With three pan-flat stages, Wiebes sailed through three wins and the overall. Still on British soil, at The Women’s Tour, she took a further three stage wins (which arguably would have been four had she not crashed in the run-in to Bury St Edmonds on stage one).
With seven Women’s WorldTour wins under her belt by July, Wiebes was just getting started. Opting to skip the Giro d’Italia Donne where her main sprinting rival, Elisa Balsamo, was headed, Wiebes eased back into racing after some time off at the 2.1 Baloise Ladies Tour where she took four stages and second overall.
The pièce de résistance, though, came on the Champs-Elysees. On hallowed sprinting ground, Wiebes powered her way down the cobbles and into the history books ending the day atop the podium in the yellow jersey, and, bizarrely, holding a baby that was not her own. Another win followed on stage five but a crash the next day saw her exit the race on stage seven.
By August, though, she was back to winning bunch sprints, albeit not contesting the top spot, at the Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden road race before taking the European road race title and a string of stage wins and subsequently the overall at the Simac Ladies Tour. While Binche Chimay Binche pour Dames may not have been Wiebes’ biggest victory of the season it is fitting that she closed out her curtailed but successful stint at Team DSM with yet another victory.
While Wiebes is by far the fastest rider, like any good sprinter there is a trusty lead out behind many of her wins. Pffeifer Georgi, Franciska Koch, and Charlotte Kool have successfully shepherded their leader to the final few hundred metres for plenty of her wins and while Wiebes has proven capable of surfing and hustling for wheels on her own it’s fair to say her successes would not have been so numerous without her DSM teammates.
All of this sets up the question: with the star of sprinting moving to Team SD Worx from next season will we see her trajectory continue?
Although questions have surfaced around how the dynamic between Wiebes and SD Worx’s current fastest finisher, Lotte Kopecky, might play out, the two women in fact possess distinct yet complementary skillsets. Flanked by Kopecky, Demi Vollering, Marlen Reusser, Chantal van den Broek Blaak or Lonneke Uneken to deliver her to the finish Wiebes would be by far the team’s best bet for a sprint finish.
Meanwhile Wiebes is more than capable of delivering Kopecky – who is more of a puncheur and Classics-style rider than a pure sprinter – and other teammates into position in the final stages of hillier races that Wiebes herself would not be able to contest.
Wiebes may struggle to adjust without the Team DSM leadout she has grown accustomed to but she will undoubtedly be back to her winning ways before long in 2023 with an eye to increasing that already-substantial tally of wins.