Manager: Ronny Lauke
Squad size: 15
Average age: 26.1
Formed from the embers of the Velocio-SRAM team around eight years ago, the German-registered squad has become one of the most respected and popular women’s outfits on the WorldTour circuit.
With household names such as Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Tiffany Cromwell and Chloe Dygert, the team have fostered its own brand of racing and identity. Managed by Ronny Lauke, they have a solid reputation for also developing young talent over the years, and while the team is currently going through something of a transitional period, they remain competitive on a number of fronts.
Niewiadoma leads the line in stage races and most of the Classics, while Dygert will be hoping to put a difficult 18 months – both on and off the bike – behind her. Lisa Klein remains a vital member of the squad, and there’s optimism for the future with youngsters Mikayla Harvey, Ella Harris and Neve Bradbury on board.
How they fared in 2021
The 2021 campaign saw Canyon-SRAM take just eight victories and it wasn't until May that the team managed to open their account with Alice Barnes taking a stage in Valenciana.
Elise Chabbey took a fine stage win at the Tour de Suisse before the results dried up once again, and despite a couple of national titles via Dygert and the departing Omer Shapira, the team struggled. Alena Amialiusik won stage 2 of the Lotto Belgium Tour before Lisa Klein came to the rescue with some late season form, winning two stages and the overall at the Baloise Ladies Tour.
Dygert poured most of her attention into recovering from her crash in 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, and raced just once in trade team colours. She was unable to reach her best form and underwent another round of surgery at the end of the season to close out what has been a disappointing association with the team to date.
Niewiadoma flew the flag admirably in almost every race she entered and picked up some major placings in both stage races and one day events – including podiums at Dwars door Vlaanderen, La Fléche Wallonne, and the Worlds – but she was unable to claim a single win.
The Polish rider in many ways summed up the team’s season as a whole. They were present and accounted for, raced with some real verve and guile but their best efforts just fell short, despite their obvious commitment.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma: The 27-year-old remains the team’s de facto leader for both stage races and one-day Classics with her blend of aggressive racing style and punchy finishing skills always likely to keep her in contention for major honours.
She had an incredibly consistent 2021 with fourth in the European Championships, third in the Worlds, second both in La Flèche Wallonne and Dwars door Vlaanderen, and a string of top 10s in a number of stage races. That said, the versatile Niewiadoma was unable to pick up a victory and she’s not won an individual race since a memorable victory on stage 4 of The Women’s Tour in 2019.
That’s too long of a drought for a rider of Niewiadoma’s obvious class but the simple fact is that the level of women’s racing has increased rapidly and Niewiadoma has raced against some of the all-time greatest riders in the women’s field. She still packs a huge punch and with the team’s continued support, it’s surely just a matter of time before the Amstel Gold Race champion returns to winning ways.
One win and the floodgates could open, and if Niewiadoma had a successful season the feel-good factor could easily trickle down through the rest of the team.
Mikayla Harvey: Harvey was picked up on a two-year contract after a breakthrough season at Equipe Paula Ka that included fifth overall and the white jersey at the Giro Rosa. However, 2021 didn’t see the talented 23-year-old continue that incredible trajectory.
The New Zealander’s first season at WorldTour level still included some decent placings, but she was unable to repeat her Giro performance, dropping out of contention for the GC on stage 2, and never quite reaching her top form again during the second half of the season. Injury and illness set her back and ruled her out of the World Championships but it’s far too early to press the panic button on a rider who is still learning her trade.
Patience is needed as Harvey has all the makings of an elite climber with all-round potential. Sometimes, with younger riders especially, progress can come in fits and starts, and Harvey more than deserves another season of opportunities. With a clean slate she will be hoping to bounce back and remind everyone of the sort of performances that saw her receive a well-earned WorldTour spot in the first place.
Chloe Dygert: Even the most ardent of Dygert fans must admit that the move to Canyon-Sram has misfired. A career-threatening injury sustained at the Imola Worlds was followed by a PR disaster and widespread criticism following her ‘likes’ of what many, including then clothing partner Rapha, deemed as offensive and divisive social media posts. While an apology, which Rapha also called ‘insufficient’, was later posted by Dygert, it’s unclear where she fits in with the team on several levels.
The American has still not fully recovered from her Imola crash and after a year spent focussing on the Olympics in Tokyo, and she has barely raced in trade team colours. That’s set to change in 2022 with Dygert expected to return from her latest off-season surgery and race a fuller Classics campaign in Europe. Whether the former world-beater can return to her best form remains a huge question mark but so does her integration into the team’s culture and embrace of diversity.
Lisa Klein: The German chipped in with almost half of the team’s wins in 2021 and over the last few years she has firmly established herself as one of the main leaders on the squad. Her three victories in 2021 came courtesy of two stage wins and the overall at the Baloise Ladies Tour but those wins turned a quiet season for the team into something far more respectable, and it was Klein’s understated consistency that stood out.
The 25-year-old picked up several top 10s and was one of just three riders under 30 to crack the top 10 in the time trial at the World Championships. Far more than just a time trialist, she could be Canyon-Sram's most important weapon in 2022.
Alice Barnes: Signing Sarah Roy from BikeExchange was a coup, with the rider set to add some much-needed firepower in the sprints along with her undoubted experience. However, it’s Barnes who probably stands out as the team’s number one sprinter, on paper at least.
The 26-year-old only took one win in 2021 but there were a string of top 10s and podium places that suggest that with a bit more luck and she could become a vital part of the team’s hunt for victories. She hasn’t won at WorldTour level yet, but her time trial ability should also keep her in the hunt on GC when it comes to shorter stage races. With her sister Hannah Barnes leaving for Uno-X Pro Cycling, and Alexis Ryan also departing, Alice should find herself with more opportunities too.
There’s a lot of experience in the team, and in Niewiadoma, Klein, Chabbey, and Cromwell, the squad has a strong spine running through its centre. In addition, Chabbey's opportunistic racing style is bound to bring the team continued representation in the breakaways, special jersey classifications and on the podiums this season. The signings of Shari Bossuyt, Pauliena Rooijakkers, and Soraya Paladin add steel, especially for hilly races, while Roy will add valuable experience when it comes to the sprints.
If Niewiadoma can turn just a handful of those podium places – easier said than done – into individual wins then she could have her best season yet. Some of the signings made over the winter will complement her style of racing, and while this squad isn’t on the same level as some of their rivals, there’s still depth and quality to their ranks. Dygert can’t be relied on just yet, as we simply don’t know where she stands after her latest surgery.
Teams like SD Worx and Trek-Segafredo have invested heavily over the last few years, both in terms of headliners and youth, while Canyon-SRAM has been slightly left behind in both departments.
They used to pick up close to twenty wins a year but they’re not that team anymore and racing without a top-five sprinter in the world remains a shackle. If your best rider – Niewiadoma – isn’t winning races and another leader Dygert is operating below her best, then it leaves you playing catch-up during the season.
The building blocks are there but the team needs things to click this year if they’re to reach their true potential. A winning Niewiadoma and a fully fit Dygert change this team from outsiders into major favourites, while there have been some canny signings in the off-season. There’s genuine excitement over several young riders, such as Neve Bradbury and Ella Harris too.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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