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2022 team preview: SD Worx

SD Worx was the world's top team in 2021
SD Worx were the world's top team in 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Who?

  • General manager: Erwin Janssen
  • Team size: 13
  • Average age: 28.23

Team SD Worx were the world's number one team in 2021 by a huge margin, with the 2020 double world champion Anna van der Breggen bringing victories in the Classics, the post-Classics races in Spain, and the Giro d'Italia Donne.

The team, which began in 2010 as the Dolmans Landscaping Team, first came to prominence with the signing of Olympic silver medalist Lizzie Deignan in 2013 and grew year by year, adding talents like Ellen van Dijk, Evelyn Stevens, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and developing from within riders such as Megan Guarnier and Amalie Dideriksen.

They became the top team in the world in 2016, eclipsing the previously dominant Rabo-Liv team, and brought on Van der Breggen in 2017. Since then, they have been the top ranked UCI team each year except for 2020, when Trek-Segafredo nudged them down one rung.

This season, SD Worx continued their two-pronged strategy of supporting their star riders, delivering Van der Breggen to 10 victories, Van den Broek-Blaak to four, and Amy Pieters to two, with Demi Vollering emerging as a successor to Van der Breggen in the Classics and Kata Blanka Vas demonstrating her developing talents on the road. They've also given chances to their loyal domestiques, with Christine Majerus winning two early season races, and with Lonneke Uneken taking out stages in three races.

2022 will be a rebuilding year as Van der Breggen transitions to the team car, and Jolien D'hoore and Karol-Ann Canuel also retire. They've retained their stalwarts and gained two huge talents in Olympic medalist Marlen Reusser and Belgian champion Lotte Kopecky and will look to foster the development of their young riders Blanka Vas and Niamh Fisher-Black.

How did they fare in 2021?

  • Wins: 33
  • World Ranking: 1

PRATO NEVOSO ITALY JULY 03 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa 3rd place Anna Van Der Breggen of Netherlands stage winner Demi Vollering of Netherlands and Team SD Worx 2nd place celebrates at podium during the 32nd Giro dItalia Internazionale Femminile 2021 Stage 2 a 1001km stage from Boves to Prato Nevoso Colle del Prel 1607m Champagne GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 03 2021 in Prato Nevoso Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

A podium sweep at the Giro (Image credit: Getty Images)

The purple jerseys of Team SD Worx could be seen streaking to victory from the first races of the year until the end of the season, racking up 33 wins from 11 different riders. Of course, Van der Breggen was the most prolific, closing out her career with 10 of those, but the team had such devastating depth that they swept the podium at the Giro d'Italia Donne with Van der Breggen, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Vollering.

While wearing the rainbow bands, Van der Breggen won the opener at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and continued her record streak at La Flèche Wallonne. After announcing her intention to retire in May, Van der Breggen continued winning in Spain at the GP Ciudad de Eibar, Durango-Durango, and sweeping three classifications - GC, Mountain and Points - at the Vuelta a Burgos after beating rival Annemiek van Vleuten to win the final mountain stage. She went on to take the Dutch time trial title and then two stages and the overall at the Giro d'Italia Donne, which would stand as the final wins of her career.

Although Van der Breggen had the most wins, the emergence of Vollering was apparent in the UCI Rankings, where the younger Dutch woman was fourth and the best-ranked of SD Worx. She won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Course by Le Tour and the Women's Tour, and had numerous podiums - she was narrowly beaten by Marianne Vos at the Amstel Gold Race and was close behind her team leader in Burgos and the Giro Donne.

Amy Pieters, who was recently seriously injured in a training crash, had a solid year, winning the Dutch championships, Nokere Koerse and a stage of the Women's Tour.

Key Riders

OVADA ITALY JULY 04 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa and Team SD Worx Purple Points Jersey at start during the 32nd Giro dItalia Internazionale Femminile 2021 Stage 3 a 135km stage from Casale Monferrato to Ovada GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 04 2021 in Ovada Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio will have to step up after the departure of Van der Breggen (Image credit: Getty Images)

Demi Vollering: With Van der Breggen stepping into the team car, Vollering will step from her understudy role into the spotlight and, along with all of the opportunities as a protected rider, will come immense pressure. The Dutch champion has proven herself to be a cool-headed and assertive presence with the endurance to withstand the hardest races and a devastating sprint to finish it off. At 26, she's approaching the best years of her career, having learned from the best. Expect to see her sporting the team's new bright pink colourway atop podiums all season in 2022.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio: With Van der Breggen now in the car, it will be up to Moolman-Pasio to deliver as the team's stage race GC threat. The South African is 37 but still at the top of her game, having won the first UCI ESports title and the huge Monte Matajur stage of the Giro Donne. She'll be the team's GC threat at the debut Tour de France Femmes.

Marlen Reusser: The Swiss rider has taken a very different path to the top of the sport than most riders, but has committed herself to pro cycling in the past two years. The 30-year-old was a part-time doctor before finding success in the sport, and quickly emerged as one of the top time trialists, taking two silver medals at the World Championships and second at the Olympic Games. With a powerful team behind her, expect Reusser's talents to bloom in 2022.

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak: The 32-year-old intends to retire at the end of 2022, and expect her to go out on top like Van der Breggen. After winning Strade Bianche this season, the Tour of Flanders in 2020, the Amstel Gold Race in 2018 and the World title in 2017, Van den Broek-Blaak is one of the key players in SD Worx's multi-pronged strategy and not a rider you can let go up the road. When given the chance, she can deliver.

Lotte Kopecky: The double Belgian champion will fill the shoes of Jolien D'hoore, and unfortunately, possibly Pieters until she recovers from her injuries, as the main sprinter on SD Worx in 2022. She racked up eight wins on the road in 2021 and will be the team's go-to on sprint days of stage races and in the lesser one-day races.

Strengths

SD Worx have always been a team with great depth and smart strategy, and expect that to continue in 2022, with Van der Breggen joining Danny Stam in the team car. With Reusser, Vollering and Van den Broek-Blaak for the attacks, Kopecky for sprints and Moolman-Pasio for the mountains, they have all their bases covered. 

They've also got some talented young riders ready to break out when given the chance, with Niamh Fisher-Black having shown her GC abilities by winning best young rider at the Giro Donne, Burgos and Ladies Tour of Norway, and Blanka Vas winning silver at the European championships U23 race. They've built a very strong programme and, even with the loss of a legend like Van der Breggen, will continue to build on that foundation.

Weaknesses

SD Worx have few weaknesses; in Vollering they have a powerful one-day racer and sprinter who can challenge the likes of Marianne Vos. In Moolman-Pasio they have one of the world's best in the high mountains, and with Van den Broek-Blaak they have a clever road captain and dangerous attacker. If they lack anything, with Pieters facing a possibly long recovery, they may be lacking in the sprints.

Verdict

SD Worx 2022 kit reveal

(Image credit: SD Worx/Getty Images)

They've lost their star rider but SD Worx have built a solid foundation and, having brought on two very handy riders in Reusser and Kopecky, they look to continue their trend of dominance in 2022. Expect Vollering to rise to the challenge of filling Van der Breggen's shoes in the same quiet, understated manner and for Vas to fly the team's colours not only on the road but on the mountain bike and in cyclo-cross.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.