Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Lorena Wiebes is aiming for quality over quantity in 2023.
The Dutch sprinter, who moved to SD Worx over the winter, was the most successful rider last year with 23 victories, nine more than the next-best rider.
As the undisputed fastest sprinter in the women’s peloton, Wiebes is likely to take that title again this season, but she’s ready to give up a few wins and trade them in for some higher-tier races.
“This season I expect to win less, but then I am aiming for the bigger races. I also see areas for improvement compared to last year. I had made a goal of Gent-Wevelgem and Brugge-De Panne, but fell short due to circumstances [she crashed in both races – ed.] So, it’s about time I cross the line first there in 2023,” Wiebes said.
- Lorena Wiebes headlines top field in debut UAE Tour
- Anna van der Breggen: Lorena Wiebes can be more than just a sprinter
- Lotte Kopecky freed up by Lorena Wiebes move to SD Worx
Wiebes will make her debut as an SD Worx rider at the forthcoming inaugural women’s UAE Tour, which starts Thursday.
In the race, she will be going up against her former leadout rider Charlotte Kool, as well as the likes of Emma Norsgaard, Georgia Baker, and Marta Bastianelli.
The four-day race will provide three solid opportunities for Wiebes to get her win tally off the ground, with the stage 3 finish to Jebel Hafeet the only mountain day.
While Wiebes is targeting some bigger races further down the line, she wants to get her victory tally up and running in the Middle East this week.
“It may be a preparation race for the real classics, but I am at the start to win. We want to get rid of that zero right away,” she said. “It’s nice that we immediately get three chances to test out the sprint train. If something goes wrong, we can adjust immediately.
“I’m not going to be satisfied until we get rid of the zero. Once you get that first win, the rest goes more smoothly because the initial pressure is off. Ideally, I would like to win all three sprint stages and then help Anna Shackley and Niamh Fisher-Black in the climber’s stage. I am eager to get started.”
As well as testing herself, the UAE Tour will be a chance for Wiebes to work with her new leadout in racing conditions for the first time.
The 23-year-old will have the backing of Barbara Guarischi, who joined from Movistar over the winter, and up-and-coming sprinter Lonneke Uneken in the bunch finishes.
During her two and a half seasons at Team DSM, Wiebes and her leadout became one of the most honed in the pack. SD Worx has been working on developing a train for Wiebes over the winter, but it remains to be seen how it comes together.
“I have a lot of confidence in my sprint train,” Wiebes continued. “Every single one of them are fast girls. It immediately feels very familiar. From minute one I had the feeling that I can fully trust Barbara Guarischi as lead-out.
“That confidence to blindly follow your leadout’s wheel is primordial for a good result. Barbara is a barrel of experience. She too loves the speed and chaos that come with a bunch sprint. She is an expert at positioning, so she will be fine.”