As a smooth and entertaining transition from 2018 to 2019, I thought it would be fun to write about my Team Sunweb teammates from 2018, wish those well moving on, and introduce the new faces joining us in 2019. Behind every top result is a team that gets you there. All of the results the team achieved were due to the hard work and collaboration from different personalities and strengths. Each person’s strength bolstered the other’s weakness and together we were stronger and could accomplish more. Last year, was filled with many memories - the good, bad, sad, and funny. All of these moments make us who we are now and prepare us for the upcoming year.
Lucinda Brand - @lucinda_brand
First up is one of our main Dutchies “Luuc”, correctly pronounced ‘loose’, and she is one of our great captains. If you are observant, you will see that she wears rings on both her left and right ring-finger, even while racing. But I would like to make it clear that she is not married or taken at all. She is 100% single and ready to mingle. So, if there are any eligible bachelors out there who likes a chick that knows what she wants, is outgoing, and likes to keep herself busy…Lucinda is your girl! She occupies herself in the winters by racing cyclo-cross and is the 2018 and newly crowned 2019 Dutch National Champion and has had her best season ever with countless wins. Who doesn’t like a winner? She also enjoys snowboarding and going for motorcycle rides. Her highlight of the year was her breakthrough as a climber. She claims it started at the Giro Rosa, but I already saw it when we were racing together at Thüringen in June. There was a 6km climb on one of the stages and she just absolutely pinned it to the top and almost dropped the entire team. You could tell she was in the zone and loving it. To top it off, Lucinda claims that her spirit animal is a monkey. Maybe that is why she loves jumping around doing cyclo-cross and maybe climbing makes her feel like she is up in the trees like a monkey.
Leah Kirchmann - @leahkirchmann
My only North American teammate this year and team housemate in Sittard. She hails from Canada and loves baking and maple syrup. A serious foodie, the only time I ever experienced her in an upset-state was when the fridge temperature was too cold, and her veggies were frostbitten. We have a lot of funny stories of time spent together while at the team house. From BBQs in the summer time, to cleaning out the entire kitchen, to riding our TT bikes directly into a thunderstorm. The list goes on and we can always lean on each other while defending North American normality’s while in Europe. Our specialty together is cooking Mexican-night together at the house. We also have a special trade agreement that I wash her bike in exchange for freshly baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. What a deal right? She joined the team a year before I did, and she helped inspire me to make the jump to a full-time European team with a lot of support from the team and having a very successful debut season in Europe. You can usually find her leading me out, about to send me into orbit, or going for sprints herself. We actually go way back in the day to racing in the USA against each other when I was on UnitedHealthcare and she was on Optum. Now we have joined forces and are kicking-butt in Europe. Her highlight of 2018 was her ITT at World Championships where she surprised the world with a very strong fourth-place finish. I believe it could have even been bronze if it wasn’t for a close run in with a car. Another highlight for her was being part of the Ladies Tour of Norway TTT team victory where her motivation came from going after the prize of 25kg of Norwegian salmon. Leah’s chosen spirit animal is a cat. Quiet, observant, and just doing her own thing.
Juliette Labous - @juliettelabous
Our young and studious Frenchie who also goes by, Juju. She reminds me a lot of how I was out of the junior category when I was going to college at Marian University while racing at the same time. Always busy, always on the computer, and using free time to read and study. Then once summer comes around, you are free at last to focus on racing and to enjoy the weather. What I’ve learned over the past two years that I’ve gotten to know her is that she works really hard - whether it’s her training, preparing for races or if it’s her studies or internship. It is really impressive and commendable, sometimes even hard to come by in the current generation. She received her university diploma last summer in mechanical engineering and mastering in production, so keep an eye on her making big steps now that she has even more time to focus on cycling. She also dabbles in some cyclo-cross in the winter to keep her skills and form on point. Her highlight of 2018 was being part of the winning TTT team at the Giro Rosa where the girls passed the pink jersey from one rider to another – sharing is caring! Juju gives herself the spirit animal of a tiger. RAWR!
Liane Lippert - @liane_lippert
My homegirl. She kind of has a lot of nicknames for example “Lilli”, “Lippy”, or “Homegirl”. But I always say, you don’t choose the nickname, the nickname chooses you. She is our German representative and most importantly, your current German National Champion. That’s for the elite women’s category – not juniors or U23. And she is only 20 years old at the moment – scary, right? I believe the future is bright for her. The steps she makes every year have been huge. From the first moment I met her, she barely spoke English and was super shy. Now she has broken out of her shell is always asking how I’m doing and telling me funny stories and always suggesting my next Netflix binge. She is way stronger than she thinks and also acquired the nicknames: “Monster Princess” or “The Beast”. You can usually find us in vehicles together answering ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to E-40’s “Choices” song getting pumped up for training, a race, or just dinner. We also love just being funny, laughing, and enjoying the moment and not being too serious about things. You can also find her taking selfies with the selfie-queen, Floortje. She had a difficult time choosing a highlight for 2018, but they are between winning the 2018 German National Title, winning overall GC at The Lotto Belgium Tour, or being part of the perfectly executed Ladies Tour of Norway TTT. Monster Princess owns the leopard as her spirit animal. Walking with style but ready to pounce when needed.
Floortje Mackaij - @floortjemackaij
This Dutchie goes by “Floor” for short. She is probably one of my favourite roomies at team camps and races because we laugh at just about anything, like funny Instagram memes, and can girl-talk forever and remind each other that our relationship with our significant other will be just fine. If I could describe her, I would say she is that girl at school who is super social and is friends with everyone. I swear she is friends with everyone in the peloton, even people she doesn’t know! Always smiling, happy, and looking for the positives, she is topped with curly and hairspray-engulfed hair. At the start of races, you will usually find her lined up early on the front row with her parents Ron and Mary somewhere nearby. Later we will see them along the course in their camper with their sweet Labrador, Saartje. Mr. Mackaij also reminds me of Will Ferrell. He is almost at every race she starts, so I’m sure you will see ‘Ron Burgundy’ around cheering for his daughter. Her highlight of 2018 was riding for the general classification at the Women’s Tour. She was a huge, huge part of our stage 2 win that put us in the leader’s jersey. I told her specifically what needed to be done and even though we let a slight gap open, she paced me perfectly on the last climb so that I could have enough energy for the sprint finish. The rest of the week she was a machine riding the front of the race, controlling and defending our jersey. Floor chose a dog as her spirit animal. She is a dog lover at heart, and clearly she wouldn’t mind being one either!
Pernille Mathiesen - @pernillemathiesen_
Last year I nicknamed this Danish powerhouse “BIG DAWG”, always in all-caps. We are complete opposites vertically, but she is the nicest soul on the planet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a mean state. We have also spent some time together in the team house and she usually just laughs at the things that I do or say. At Thuringen this year we had to chase down a big break on one of the stages, and she led the pack and almost single handedly chased them back. The next day she got herself in the early break during the mountain stage and later joined us when we chased down the break after the big climbs. Another day we were buddies in the breakaway. That was a fun week racing together and I believe that is where “BIG DAWG” was born. Later in the off-season, we thought it would be funny if I got on her shoulders at a party, it was hilarious and that moment lives on somewhere on social media. Her personal highlight for 2018 was a super strong third place at the 3.9km prologue at the BeNe Ladies Tour, where she averaged 47.755kph, 12 seconds behind the winner. “BIG DAWG” took an online test for her spirit animal, and contrary to her nickname she is actually an owl. According to the interwebs, you cannot deceive owls and they remain true to their selves, voices and vision. They also don’t tolerate illusion or secrets. I have to agree with that description because when BIG DAWG says “no”, she means “NO.”
Julia Soek - @juliasoek
Another team captain who is behind the scenes uniting the team on and off the bike. You can always trust that this Dutchie will ask how you’re doing and pick up your mood if you’re down. Nicknamed “Juul”, correctly pronounced ‘you’ll’, she is probably the person on the team who is most like me in enjoying quality food, beer, wine, cocktails, clothing, and experiences. The past two years, she has travelled from her home near Amsterdam and stayed with me in California for two weeks, kicking off our training for the next season, having some fun, and celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. We get along really well, and we are always doing our best to enjoy the moment to its fullest and to not stress about things. You can usually find her lining up our lead-out train for sprints or before climbs or key moments, and orchestrating our execution. One of my favourite moments together was when we did a small club race when I was a little bit homesick. It started off raining, but we made the most of the situation. She eventually made it into a break that stuck, and she outsprinted her companions for the win! It’s not often that the team captain can go for a win, so this was a great moment for her and I was proud to be a small part of it. We later celebrated with some champagne in Amsterdam, because why not? You can usually find her in front or beside me at races telling me the best moment to get in position or when it is OK to just relax and chit-chat. Her highlight of 2018 is the Women’s Tour and the Giro TTT. Teamwork is what she lives for and these two moments were full of them. Plus, the fun the girls had passing around the pink jersey after they won the TTT during the Giro Rosa. She says her spirit animal is a dog because they’re funny. It makes sense to me that Floortje and Julia both think they are dogs because they are BFFs, duh.
Ellen van Dijk - @emvandijk
The time-trialling-living-legend goes by “Ell” for short. This Dutchie and former TT World Champ is often found at the front of a group always pushing the pace. Her zone 2 is definitely not like your zone 2. We have made some amazing memories together and she has played a key role in some of my first WorldTour wins in 2017. She had a spectacular lead-out for my win in Binda and she was also key in closing down the breakaway when I won Flanders a couple years ago. Our strengths complimented each other a lot which made us a great team. I always felt bad for her because when I was added to the TTT squad, she was stuck behind my draft, or lack thereof. But considering we won 2017 TTT World Championships, I think it didn’t hinder her or the team too much! Off the bike I have stayed at her house a few times and always enjoy dinners or BBQs at her pad. Her chosen highlights of 2018 was the TTT win during the Giro and her ITT victory at the Dutch National Championships. Ellen also took an online test to determine her spirit animal, turns out she is a donkey! What a strong ass! According to Google, the donkey signifies the true meaning of being of service without losing your individuality and teaches eagerness and intelligence.
Ruth Winder - @ruthwinder8
She was my first and only American teammate on a European team. We have been teammates multiple times before and go way back to our junior days. Our first time together was in 2009 on Proman out of Northern California. A few years go by and we also end up being teammates again on UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, then again on Team Sunweb in 2018. She is an incredibly loyal teammate, always doing her job to a T. And in the leader role, she takes opportunities with both hands and can certainly win a bike race. She played an instrumental role at US National Championships last year where our abilities complimented each other and we won the championship, helping me into my 72nd US National Title. It was a beautiful day and we had organized the perfect US support crew to assist us in winning the title. Her highlight of the year was between the Giro Rosa, where almost everyone took a day in the pink leader’s jersey (and might I add Ruth had an epic stage win that also put her in the pink jersey), or the Ladies Tour of Norway TTT where our execution was incredibly perfect. Ruth deems herself a dog as her spirit animal – she says, “Loyal and you better not f*ck with my people or I’ll bite you”.
Ellen and Ruth have changed teams for 2019. We will surely miss them as we had made a lot of memories and won and lost a lot of races together, but learned a lot along the way. It’s part of sport and in life when you move on to the next chapter. And at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you. I wish them both the best in this upcoming year and will definitely see them out on the roads and in races!
Susanne Andersen - @susanneandersen
One of our new additions to Team Sunweb that I am very much looking forward to racing with. She is from Norway and for the meantime her chosen nickname is “Susan”. At least if she was American that is what I would call her. From what I’ve learned being her roommate and at team meetings, she is funny, bubbly, and down to do just about anything. She is young with a lot of talent and I’m sure the only way is up for her future. Her highlight of 2018 was improving her Flanders result from a DNF in 2017 to a 15th place and signing with Team Sunweb. Susan believes she is a lion at heart and I’m sure we will see her roar this season.
Janneke Ensing - @jannekeensing
The new Dutchie addition to the team is also now our new “team grandma” but if you were to take a guess, I’m sure she wouldn’t be your first bet as the oldest rider on the team. Also a speed skater, she is surely athletic and talented. In the bike races, you will normally see her in the front group when the going gets tough. She has a lot of experience and the team and I are excited to learn from her and race together as a unit. Her chosen highlight of 2018 was her amazing victory at La Samyn. And she hones in on the animal spirit of the dolphin, which according to the internet is a representation of balance and harmony because they are in tune with their instincts and very intelligent. People who identify with the dolphin are normally gentle, peaceful, and a possess a deep inner strength.
Pfeiffer Georgi - @pfeiffergeorgi
Our fresh British hotshot is a first-year pro. Her 2018 season was scattered with a lot of top 10s and multiple victories. She closed out her junior career with a fourth place in the ITT and an 11th place in the World Championships road race, which also happened to be the same day as her birthday! If that is any indication of her talent, I am sure that you will see her working through the WorldTour ranks in no time. Also bright, she is currently finishing school as she makes her first steps into the professional ranks. As a first-year pro, she will be a sponge soaking up as much experience as she can, but from what I already know of her during team meetings, she is definitely a fast learner. Fun fact - she never raced with sunglasses because she never owned a pair. First lesson learned as I gave her a pair of my Oakley’s from last season to train in this winter. Her 2018 highlight is winning the junior Trofeo Alfredo Binda and she believes her spirit animal is a cat – fanciful, magical, and independent.
I am really looking forward to working with these personalities next season and bringing the team together to work towards a common goal. I hope this gave you a bit more background and insight into who they really are beyond a results sheet or interview. Follow us into 2019 as we embark on another year of learning, racing, and travelling.