There will be a significant amount of reshuffling next season, with five new teams bolstering their rosters as they await approval to shift up to the Women's WorldTour. At the same time the existing teams have looked to strengthen their hands against the intensifying competition in a field set to include 14 Women's WorldTeams in 2022.
There are currently nine world-class programmes; Alé-BTC-Ljubljana, which will change hands to USA Team Emirates next year, Canyon-SRAM, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Team BikeExchange, Liv Racing, Movistar Team Women, Team DSM, Trek-Segafredo, and SD Worx. While Jumbo-Visma, Uno-X, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, Human Powered Health and Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad have applied to debut at the top level of women's racing.
Cyclingnews takes a look at 10 of the biggest signings among the riders that have announced they'll be making a move in 2022.
Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo)
Trek-Segafredo have a knack for scooping up the best up-and-coming talents and this year is no exception as the team inked a three-year deal with Elisa Balsamo in August.
The Italian sprinter went on to win the elite women's road race at the UCI Road World Championships in September and will wear the rainbow jersey in her first season with the team in 2022.
Balsamo is just 23 years old and while she astounded the cycling world in Flanders to win the world title ahead of Marianne Vos, in truth, she has been a prominent sprinter and puncheur in the women's peloton for several years.
Balsamo has had past victories at the Tour of California, Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, Dwars door Westhoek and Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli, and while the world title has been her biggest win, it's likely to only the beginning of a big future at the top of the sport.
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx)
Just when you thought SD Worx couldn't possibly get any stronger, they did. The team announced the signing of double Belgian Champion Lotte Kopecky in June. She will join the team upon the departures of Anna van der Breggen, compatriot Jolien D'hoore, Karol Ann Canuel and soon-to-be retiring Chantal van den Broek-Blaak.
Kopecky adds an immense amount of power and versatility to the team with a powerful sprint, time trial, and she is well-suited to the steep and punchy ascents of the Spring Classics. She is also a world champion on the track and a strong cyclo-cross competitor.
At 25 years old, Kopecky has a huge future in front of her and she will develop her talents with SD Worx through 2024, and under the guidance of new sports director Van der Breggen. Watch for her to come into her own with the support of a powerful team and with good leadership.
Arlenis Sierra (Movistar)
It was only a matter of time before Arlenis Sierra signed a contract with a top-tier team and that has happened with Movistar. The Cuban all-rounder brings a powerful sprint to the team and an added dimension to compliment the squad in the Spring Classics alongside Emma Norsgaard and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Since leaving her home in Cuba to move to Italy and join Astana in 2017, Sierra has become one of the strongest puncheurs in the peloton. She spent four seasons with Astana and this year with A.R. Monex.
She has amassed victories at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Tour of Guangxi, stages of the Tour of California, and a second place at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She has also won general classifications at Giro Toscana and Vuelta a Costa Rica.
This year, she won Navarra Women's Elite Classics, a stage at the Tour de l'Ardèche, and two stages and the overall title at Giro Toscana. She capped off the year with a fifth place at the Flanders World Championships and a win at Tre Valli Varesine Women's Race.
Sierra now has the support of a world-class team making it likely we will start seeing an even stronger flow of results to add to an already successful career. The sky is the limit for this rider and cycling fans around the world will be watching and waiting to see her rise to the occasion in 2022 with Movistar.
Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope)
One of the more surprising transfers of the season saw Grace Brown leave Australia-based Team BikeExchange for French team FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope on a two-year contract through 2023.
Brown has had standout performances at BikeExchange winning Brugge-De Panne, a stage at Vuelta a Burgos, and finishing third at Tour of Flanders. She was also third in the mountain time trial at the Giro d’Italia Donne and then represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games, competing in the road race and time trial, where she finished fourth.
FDJ have stated that Brown's opportunistic racing style is exactly what they were looking for in a new rider, which adds to the gradual growth of the programme toward becoming one of the top teams in the world.
Brown brings a new dimension to a team that includes Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Marta Cavalli and French Champion Evita Muzic, which bodes well for the Spring Classics and particularly the team's goals at the Tour de France Femmes.
Sarah Gigante (Movistar)
Along that same thread, Australian Sarah Gigante's move from TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank to Movistar also sent waves through the peloton and media because many expected her to perhaps find a place in her home nation team, BikeExchange.
It was not to be, however, and it was not for lack of trying but how could Gigante refuse an offer from Movistar to learn under the tutelage of the number one ranked rider in the world, Annemiek van Vleuten.
Gigante is one of the biggest climbing talents in the peloton, and at just 21 years old, she is only starting her career. She spent the last two seasons developing at TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, where she has won back-to-back time trial national titles (2020-21), and before that, the road race national title in 2019.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and injuries have impacted the amount of time she has been able to spend developing on the European scene.
She has signed a three-year contract with Movistar through 2024 and has three seasons to develop and prepare to, perhaps one-day, take over the reins from Van Vleuten as one of the most successful athletes in the sport.
Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma)
After a solid five seasons with Sunweb/Team DSM programme, Coryn Labecki (née Rivera) is leaving for new pastures at Jumbo-Visma. Her European career has drawn significant success becoming the first American to win the Tour of Flanders, and other victories at OVO Energy Women's Tour, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and RideLondon Classique.
This season, she won a stage at the Giro d'Italia Donne and then finished 7th in her first-ever participation at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She also finished 10th in the elite women's road race at the World Championships.
Her strengths will fit in to the team's ambitions in stage races and one-day races where, up until now, Marianne Vos has carried the weight of the team's success. Labecki said she is looking forward to joining forces with Vos, and taking on a part leadership role and part support role at the squad. She also said she looks forward to continuing her own development by learning from Vos, a rider she has gone up against many times on both hilly and sprint terrain.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx)
Marlen Reusser had only signed a one-year contract with Alé BTC Ljubljana, after her former team Equipe Paule Ka folded unexpectedly at the end of 2020. Her palmares are steadily growing and before this year already included a bronze at the European Championships and silver at the Imola Worlds, both in 2020, while she has also won her national TT title four times and the road race title twice since 2017.
Her progress skyrocketed this year with a silver medal in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics, and stage wins at the Simac Ladies Tour and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, where she finished second overall in both stage races. She also won the European Championships time trial title and added another silver medal in the discipline at the Flanders Worlds.
Reusser is only just getting started and the 30-year-old's progress since beginning her racing career, in 2019, has had a steep upward trajectory. SD Worx see a future overall classification contender, a time trial specialist, and an opportunist to develop over the next two seasons.
Alexis Ryan (L39ION of Los Angeles)
Alexis Ryan will depart Canyon-SRAM after six years to race for the expanding L39ION of Los Angeles women's team in 2022.
Ryan grew up racing with L39ION of Los Angeles co-founders and brothers Justin and Cory Williams at the Major Motion team. She will also unite with her sister, Kendall Ryan, who is the reigning US Pro Criterium Champion.
Ryan began her pro career at UnitedHealthcare in 2014 and 2015 before moving to Canyon-SRAM. The rider, who won Drentse Acht van Westerveld and a stage of the Tour de l'Ardèche in 2018, will bring six-years of Women's WorldTour experience to the American team in 2022.
L39ION of Los Angeles has dominated the US racing circuit, and with the Ryan sisters, along with sisters Samantha and Skylar Schneider, and Shayna Powless, the women's team is set to take a major step forward next season.
Lizzy Banks (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB)
Lizzy Banks made a surprise departure from Ceratizit-WNT having signed a two-year contract that will see the British talent racing with the American outfit EF Education-TIBCO-SVB in 2022 and 2023.
Banks joins the team having spent one season racing with Ceratizit-WNT, however, her season was cut short after sustaining a head injury in a crash at Strade Bianche in March. Now recovered, Banks aims to get back to her racing career as she brings strength and experience to EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, a long-time team that has applied for a Women's WorldTour licence next year.
In her four year since turning professional, Banks has secured two stage wins at the Giro d'Italia Donne in 2019 and 2020, and a second place at the 2020 GP de Plouay-Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT.
A powerful all-rounder and a tactically savvy rider we can watch out for Banks to, once again, animate the races on the biggest stage in 2022.
Hannah Barnes (Uno-X)
Hannah Barnes will also be departing Canyon-SRAM after six years and joining the newly launched women's team Uno-X through 2023. Like Ryan, Barnes started her career at UnitedHealthcare before moving to Canyon-SRAM in 2016.
Barnes is a talented all-rounder with a fast sprint. She has won a stage at the Giro d'Italia Donne and three stages at the former Tour de San Luis. She has also won the overall title at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and was third overall at the OVO Energy Women's Tour. A strong Classics rider, too, she has finished in the top 10 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Uno-X is one of five teams that have applied for a Women's WorldTour licence in 2022 and they have announced signing Hannah Ludwig (also from Canyon-SRAM), Susanne Andersen from Team DSM, and Joss Lowden from Drops to its roster.
Barnes brings a wealth of experience and strength to the team and will be in a leadership role as she helps the team develop on the world stage.
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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 bike racing from the 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 cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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