2021 Team Preview: Team DSM Women
Wiebes and Jastrab lead Women's WorldTeam into the future
Team DSM are well-known as a powerful one-day race team with a mix of youth and experience, and that carries over into the 2021 season.
They have changed their title sponsor to Team DSM this year after four seasons under the Team Sunweb banner, and previously Liv-Plantur, Giant-Shimano and Skil-Argos in their inaugural season in 2010. In the last decade, the team have built on their financial stability, with long-term partners and sponsors, which has translated into being able to offer multiple-year contracts to their riders.
Stability is important for a team that prides itself on developing younger talent and giving opportunities for riders to grow and gain experience in top-level racing. The team have a range of talent such as Liane Lippert, Juliette Labous, Lorena Wiebes and newly-signed Megan Jastrab, who are the future champions of the Women's WorldTour.
The team also have a focus on winning bike races and have helped developed world-class racers such as Tour of Flanders winner Coryn Rivera, 28, who embarks on her fifth season with the team, and Gent-Wevelgem winner Floortje Mackaij, 25, who has been with the team since 2013.
In 2021, the team have a 13-rider roster capable of winning one-day races, flatter stage races, while keeping a focus on their developing future talent.
Manager: Iwan Spekenbrink
Squad size: 13
Average age: 23.1
How did they fare in 2020?
WorldTour ranking: 4th
As Team Sunweb in 2020, Liane Lippert kicked off the season in winning fashion with a victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race to take the first Women's WorldTour leader's jersey of the season.
Following the COVID-19 shutdown, the season resumed in August at Strade Bianche where Lippert suffered bad luck but still managed to keep her grip on the series lead. She went on to top-10 finishes at the Giro Rosa, World Championships, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Although she would eventually lose the series to Trek-Segafredo's Lizzie Deignan, it was a good run of strong performances by Lippert and the team.
Other strong performances came from Juliette Labous, who won the time trial at the French National Championships, and mid-season signing Lorena Wiebes, who won races at Grote Prijs Euromat, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne and the opening stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.
Altogether, their efforts during the truncated season brought them up to fourth place in the world ranking and an even stronger third place in the UCI Women's WorldTour team ranking.
Lorena Wiebes: Signing Wiebes mid-season on a four-year deal was a coup for Team Sunweb in 2020. She ended her 2019 season as the number-one ranked rider in the world and wanted to make the move up to the Women's WorldTour from her former Continental team Parkhotel Valkenburg.
Wiebes has quickly made a name for herself as one of the fastest sprinters in the world. At just 21 years old, she has a long and bright future headed toward the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Liane Lippert: Lippert has come a long way since signing her first pro contract with Team Sunweb in 2017. Her outstanding performances last year spoke to the commitment that the team has given to her development over the last five seasons. Lippert is a versatile rider who does very well on challenging terrain and in one-day races and stage races.
Her strengths are starting to show in some of the biggest races in the world, and while she has a focus on the Tokyo Olympic Games this year, she will also race for victories at the Ardennes Classics.
Juliette Labous: Labous gives Team DSM a strong card to play in the overall classification at major stage races like the Giro Rosa. She is the reigning French national champion in the time trial and secured a podium in a stage at the Giro Rosa during the truncated 2020 season.
Previously, she has stood on the podium in stages at the Giro Rosa and Tour de Bretagne, while also placing in the top 11 overall and the winner of the youth classification at the Giro Rosa. She was also top 10 overall at Ladies Tour of Norway and Tour of California. Watch out for Labous during the mountainous stage races and one-day races.
Megan Jastrab: Jastrab's main focus is making it to the Tokyo Olympic Games to represent Team USA, where she aims to compete in both the Team Pursuit and Madison in 2021. Her future at Team DSM is long-term, however, as she has signed a contract to stay with the team through 2022.
She is looking forward to joining the team more often in the second year of her contract, and learning how to race in the top level of professional road races. She is the reigning junior world champion, and at just 18 years old, has a big future in the sport in both road and track racing.
The team has youth on their side, with an average age of 24 and nine riders under the age of 25, and they have committed to developing their talent on a long-term basis. In fact, several of their top riders have already been with the team for four or five seasons, and are ready to contest for victories.
Riders like Lorena Wiebes, Megan Jastrab, Pfeiffer Georgi, Wilma Olausson, and Franziska Koch are the youngest riders but they are also proven champions and support riders. With additional support from a word-class team and organisation, they will no doubt flourish into future leaders.
The team's strengths are in sprinting and one-day races. Wiebes is one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton, but the team also have cards to play with more experienced riders like Coryn Rivera, Susanne Andersen, Leah Kirchmann, and Floortje Mackaij, who are versatile enough to also win on hilly terrain and from breakaways.
Rivera might have had a turbulent 2020 season, but she is aiming to come back to her Tour of Flanders-winning form in the spring of 2021, with a late-season focus on the Olympic Games and the World Championships in Belgium.
Team DSM don't have a go-to overall classification contender, at least in the mountains, at the moment. They have a host of potential, however, with riders like Liane Lippert and Juliette Labous, but they need more time to develop in order to challenge the likes of Anna van der Breggen or Annemiek van Vleuten.
They're still developing their strengths, and Labous has said that she is focused on improving her time trial, which will in turn help her goals of being a general classification contender in the future. They are both 22 years old, too, and with more experience and time to grow, they could become contenders for GC victories in major stage races on the Women's WorldTour.
In order to be more well-rounded, they likely need to turn their attention to developing and building the next general classification leader.
The team have been able to build stability over the years and offer their riders multiple-year contracts, which gives their younger riders and future talent the space to grow and learn from their more experienced teammates.
Signing riders like Wiebes through 2024 and Jastrab through 2022, both already proven winners, gives the team an added dimension in the one-day races and flatter stage races. They are solid cards to play for victories with potential to lead the team more often in the future.
The team also have the added stage racing experience of riders like Rivera, who won the OVO Energy Women's Tour in 2018, and who can provide excellent guidance and leadership in the stage races.
Look out for Team DSM to continue to succeed in the Classics, one-day races and punchy stage races in 2021.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.