The 2018 road season is about to start with the Santos Women's Tour in Australia. Cyclingnews looks at 10 of the most important rider transfers within the UCI women's teams to watch during the Women's WorldTour and UCI-ranked events. We also picked three neo-pros to watch as they develop on the professional racing circuit.
From: Wiggle High5
Will it work: Jolien D’hoore is recognized as a top performer on the track and as a one-day racer but she is also a winner in the shorter and flatter stage races, making her a valuable rider for any team competing on the Women’s WorldTour. The Belgian road champion turned professional in 2008 and spent the last three seasons with Wiggle High5 where she won Madrid Challenge, Flanders Diamond Tour, Crescent Women Vargarda and overall title at Tour of Chongming Island and BeNe Ladies Tour, along with numerous stage victories.
D’hoore sees herself as a sprinter and a Classics specialists and will focus on the spring season in Europe with her new team Mitchelton-Scott in 2018, and the smaller sized team is likely to be willing to provide her with more of a leadership role. Her role fits well with the team that showcases a support crew for one-day races with Gracie Elvin, Amanda Spratt and Sarah Roy, while covering the more mountainous races with time trial world champion Annemiek Van Vleuten.
From: WM3 Pro Cycling
Will it work: Katarzyna Niewiadoma has been with the same team set-up since she turned professional in 2014, so it is not too surprising that she felt the need to try something new. Given the results that she has had over recent seasons, it was a coup for the WM3 Pro Cycling squad to retain her for the 2017 season.
Niewiadoma is just 23 and she’s still got plenty of room for improvement. But, she made a major step forward last season with second at Strade Bianche, her run of third places during Ardennes Week and a superb solo stage win that sealed her overall victory at the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour. There are no givens in cycling but moving to Canyon-SRAM gives her significantly more support and she will hope that converts into bigger and better success.
Name:Dani Rowe (nee King)
Will it work: It is two full seasons since Dani Rowe chose to leave track behind completely to focus on her road ambitions. There have been some bumps along the way, such as missing selection for the 2016 Olympic Games, but there has been promising progression for the former track world champion.
WaowDeals already have a strong sprinter in Marianne Vos but with Rowe they have a rider for the tougher sprints and a reliable Classics star in the making. With two solid years under her belt, Rowe will be hoping for a few more podium places, particularly with the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast later this year.
Speciality: Time triallist
To: Wiggle-High 5
Will it work: Wiggle-High5 have been sniffing around Lisa Brennauer for some time and, with her latest contract at Canyon-SRAM up for renewal, they finally got their mark. Brennauer had expressed interest in making a move after six seasons in the same squad, but Wiggle-High5 seemed an odd choice given her skillset. Somewhere such as Team Sunweb or Cervelo-Bigla may have been a more obvious choice but Rochelle Gilmore’s squad still gives her plenty of options.
She is good on lumpy terrain and her time trialling skills give her an advantage in one-week races, an area that Wiggle-High5 has been a bit hit and miss on in the past. With herself, Eri Yonamine and Katie Archbald, the team have also strengthened their team time trialling potential. This is another area that the team have seriously lacked in recent years so it will be interesting to see how they gel over the next 12 months. Brennauer has a fast sprint too and can handle herself in a bunch finish if needed. Her winter hit a snag when she crashed heavily at the European Track Championships, but she should be in good condition when she gets her season underway.
From: Wiggle High5
To: Ale Cipollini
Will it work: Japan's Mayuko Hagiwara has been a top performer on the women's circuit during the past five seasons. She is a two-time road champion and five-time time trial champion. She notably won stages of the Giro Rosa and Tour de Bretagne in 2015. She was the first Japanese rider to win a stage of a Grand Tour after her stage 6 win at the Giro Rosa. She has spent the previous five seasons with the Wiggle High5 team but suffered from mononucleosis infection caused by Epstein Barr virus, in 2016 and 2017, which kept her from racing for much of last season. For 2018, the team hired compatriot Eri Yonamine, who has won the Japanese road title twice (2016 and 2017) and the time trial three times (2015-2017) for the 2018 season.
Wiggle High5's loss was Ale Cipollini's gain and so a recovered Hagiwara brings her stage racing strengths to the Italy-based team. She will no doubt have more opportunities to race for herself, in her own aggressive style, on a smaller sized team. She might even gain some support during the season and more importantly at her prized race the Giro Rosa, which is also a big goal for Ale Cipollini.
Speciality: One-day races
Will it work: They say that embracing change can make all the difference and for Australia’s Rachel Neylan that meant leaving her home team Orica-Scott (now Mitchelton-Scott) for a new adventure abroad with the Spanish outfit Movistar.
Neylan’s best result was second place, behind Marianne Vos, at the 2012 UCI World Championships in Valkenburg. She has also shown her versatility by winning the overall title at the Trophee d'Or Feminin in 2015 and more recently second at Erondegemse Pijl. Director Jorge Sanz says the team’s strength is in its undeveloped potential. Signing a veteran rider like Neylan brought in much-needed experience to lead a team of relatively young riders while also giving Neylan the excitement of a brand new project.
Speciality: Climbing, All-rounder
From: UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
To: Team Sunweb
Will it work: Ruth Winder flew relatively under the radar at her previous team UnitedHealthcare as a support rider for climbing specialist Katie Hall. Even while working for her team, however, Winder still managed eighth at the Santos Women’s Tour, fourth at Tour of the Gila and fifth at Amgen Women’s Race. She then branched out to win Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour de Feminin - O cenu Českého Švýcarska, second at Lotto Belgium Ladies Tour and 10th at Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, in what she considered a 'magical' season.
Her talents did not go unnoticed at Team Subweb that was looking to bring in an solid climber and all-rounder. And the team had already found success in hiring American Coryn Rivera, her former teammate, the year before. Winder will bring that much-needed climbing specialty to the team which will add to their already-dominant roster that includes Rivera, Lucinda Brand and Ellen Van Dijk.
Speciality: Time trialling
From: Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling
Will it work: Claire Rose is not one of the bigger names in the peloton but her move to Cervelo-Bigla for the 2018 season will be no less interesting to watch. Rose is a latecomer to the pro scene, turning professional at the age of 28 in 2016 with Sarah Storey’s Podium Ambition squad. She proved her potential with second place in the prologue at Euskal Emakumeen XXIX Bira, ahead of some stellar competition, and finished runner up in the time trial at the British national championships.
After a successful debut season, Rose chose to go stateside with the Visit Dallas DNA team. A solid start to the season built up to her first national time trial title and was followed by victories in the two chronos at the Cascade Cycling Classic. Cervelo-Bigla has made no bones about their ambitions in the team time trial at the World Championships and the inclusion of Rose will bolster their hopes for the discipline.
Will it work: Securing Kirsten Wild for the 2018 season was another big scoop for Rochelle Gilmore, particularly after the loss of Jolien D’hoore and Giorgia Bronzini. At 35, Wild is the second oldest member of the squad and her powers seem to be waning, but she is still one of the most reliable sprinters in the bunch.
Last year brought four victories on the road, including two at WorldTour level. If she can repeat that in 2018 then her switch to Wiggle-High5 will be considered a success by the team. Her division of road and track ambitions also sits well with the team’s ethos, they have become well known for their support of track riders. Wild will continue to spend part of her season on the boards and she will be hoping to get herself into the rainbow stripes on home soil in Apeldoorn at the start of March.
From: Wiggle High5
Will it work: A staple at the Wiggle High5 team for the last five years, it will be a slight shock to see Italian sprinter Giorgia Bronzini racing with American team Cylance in 2018. The team re-vamped their roster to include a range of talent capable of covering the time trials, mountainous races, overall classification and they hired Bronzini to specifically cover the sprints.
The former two-time world champion has dominated the sprints for a decade but shared that role at Wiggle High5. At Cylance she will likely be the go-to sprinter but there are two other fast women with compatriots Marta Tagliaferro and Rossella Ratto. Having already had a hugely successful career, Bronzini, 34, is not quite ready to retire and will fill a valuable mentorship role to many of the younger riders.
Neo-pros to watch
Emma Cecilie Norsgaard (Cervelo-Bigla): 2016 Danish road race champion, 2017 Danish junior time trial champion, silver in the road race at the 2017 European Championships, bronze in time trial at 2017 European Championships, silver in junior road race at 2017 World Championships.
Skylar Schleider (Boels-Dolmans): Silver medal in the junior women's road race and fourth in the junior women's time trial at the 2016 World Championships, third in stage 3 at Joe Martin Stage Race, won stage 6 at the 2017 Internationale Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour.
Elena Pirrone (Astana): Double junior women's world champion in the road race and time trial at the 2017 World Championships, junior women's champion in the time trial at the 2017 European Continental Championships,