Top women's transfer successes of 2021

Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten
Marianne Vos, Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A change of scenery can be a real boost for a pro rider's career and similarly, some fresh talent can take a team to a higher level. 

After a raft of transfers between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Cyclingnews looks at the 10 transfers that have reshaped teams from those at the very top of the Womens' WorldTour like SD Worx to the up-and-coming teams who scored big names like Movistar.

Demi Vollering - SD Worx

Demi Vollering was such an integral part of SD Worx this season that it's hard to believe she only moved across from the Parkhotel Valkenburg squad at the beginning of the 2021 season. 

As a new recruit, Vollering was expected to play understudy to the team's stars like Anna van der Breggen and another new recruit Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. But after getting pipped by Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo) at Brabantse Pijl by celebrating too soon, then nearly beating Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) at the Amstel Gold Race with a late surge. Vollering took her first victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, beating none other than Van Vleuten from a five-rider sprint and established herself as a team leader.

Vollering went on to win La Course by le Tour de France, and the overall Women's Tour and scored podium placings in the Vuelta a Burgos and Giro d'Italia Donne.

The 25-year-old proved she will make a fine successor to retiree Van der Breggen, finishing the year fourth overall in the UCI World Rankings. 

It was an impressive debut and a performance that helped the team end the year as the number one ranked women's squad. Now that's a successful transfer.

Annemiek van Vleuten, Emma Norsgaard, Leah Thomas - Movistar

The Movistar Team at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta

The Movistar Team at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta (Image credit: Getty Images)

The signing of a marquee rider can make all the difference for an ambitious team, and Movistar's acquisition of the third-ranked rider in the UCI World Rankings Annemiek van Vleuten paid off in spades. But it wasn't only Van Vleuten who transformed the team.

At the end of 2020, Movistar had just wrapped up its first season in the Women's WorldTour and were a distant 16th in the rankings well down from powerhouses like leaders Trek-Segafredo and Boels-Dolmans. Van Vleuten made the surprise move from the Australian Mitchelton-Scott squad, and together with Emma Norsgaard and Leah Thomas from the defunct Equipe Paulé Ka, helped to transform the Spanish team from mid-pack to third in the World Rankings.

Although Van Vleuten was caught out by a surge from SD Worx before the halfway point of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Norsgaard won the sprint for second behind Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx). Norsgaard was second again at Le Samyn, while Van Vleuten again fell victim to SD Worx stellar team tactics at Strade Bianche and took fourth.

However the wins began to flow soon after, with Van Vleuten taking her first for the team at Dwars door Vlaanderen then again at the Tour of Flanders. It was only the first real month of racing, and already the Movistar Team was ranked second in the world to SD Worx.

Although Trek-Segafredo's fine late season, with victories in Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the GP de Plouay pushed them over Movistar in the final 2021 rankings, the trio of signings this year put the Movistar Team on a new level.

Marlen Reusser - Alé BTC Ljubljana

Marlen Reusser wins a stage at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta

Marlen Reusser wins a stage at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta (Image credit: Getty Images)

Alé BTC Ljubljana were the fortunate team to scoop up Swiss sensation Marlen Reusser as the Equipe Paulé Ka team dissolved, and there is no arguing that the acquisition was one of the biggest transfer successes of the 2021 season.

The Swiss time trial champion had a solid pandemic-shortened 2020 season, taking the bronze medal at the European Championships in the time trial before stunning the field to take silver behind Anna van der Breggen in the same event at the World Championships in Imola.

After joining the Italian outfit, Reusser proceeded to have a positively sparkling summer, with third overall in the Tour de Suisse, double Swiss titles, silver in the Olympic Games time trial, a stage win and second overall in the Simac Ladies Tour and in the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, and the gold medal at the European Championships in the time trial. Another silver at the road World Championships and the win at the Chrono des Nations closed out her time with Alé BTC Ljubljana.

Although she will move on to SD Worx, Reusser's time at the Italian team helped them end the season in their best-ever UCI rankings at fifth. 

The team will move under the banner of UAE Team Emirates in 2022 without her, but having completed the transition from an ambitious elite team to a top-tier professional squad.

Marianne Vos - Jumbo-Visma

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in the points jersey at the Giro d'Italia Donne

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) in the points jersey at the Giro d'Italia Donne (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Marianne Vos formed the foundations of the nascent Jumbo-Visma team after the pandemic ended the CCC-Liv team and although she is arguably the greatest rider of all time, it's still a big ask to captain a team when you're the only big-name rider. 

Yet Jumbo-Visma finished the year as the best-ranked UCI Continental Women's team in ninth - ahead of Team BikeExchange - largely because of Vos' prowess.

The Dutch star was third overall in the individual rankings behind Trek-Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini and top-ranked Van Vleuten and had a consistent season with victories in Gent-Wevelgem, the Amstel Gold Race, two stages of the Giro d'Italia Donne and three in the Simac Ladies Tour.

Her second places in Worlds and at Paris-Roubaix Femmes were heartbreaking but Vos could look back with pride on Jumbo-Visma's inaugural season that saw young Briton Anna Henderson emerge as a future leader and Riejanne Markus step in with a stage victory at the Ladies Tour of Norway after Henderson crashed out.

Lorena Wiebes - Team DSM

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) wins Ronde van Drenthe 2021

Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) wins Ronde van Drenthe 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team DSM had a 2021 season that far surpassed the organisations last two years, bringing the squad back to the level of the 2018 Sunweb team with 18 victories from Scheldeprijs in April to the Ronde van Drenthe in October. 

Thirteen of these came from newcomer Lorena Wiebes, who joined halfway through the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season after a protracted negotiation to end her contract with Parkhotel Valkenburg.

Although the transfer success for Wiebes is not technically from the 2021 season, this year's full season gave a better measure than last year of how valuable the versatile Dutch sprinter is to the team.

For the first half of the year, Wiebes chalked up all of the team's eight wins and then another two stages of the Giro d'Italia Donne before Coryn Labecki claimed stage 10 for DSM. Pfeiffer Georgi and Floortje Mackaij each took a pair of wins, while Wiebes continued to pile on results with victories in the Women's Tour and Ronde van Drenthe.

Still just 22 years old, Wiebes will be the cornerstone of the team for years to come, or at least until her contract runs out in 2024.

Teniel Campbell - Team BikeExchange

SWEIKHUIZEN NETHERLANDS AUGUST 28 Teniel Campbell of Trinidad And Tobago and Team BikeExchange prepares for the race prior to the 23rd Simac Ladies Tour 2021 Stage 4 a 1489km stage from Geleen to Sweikhuizen SLT2021 UCIWWT on August 28 2021 in Sweikhuizen Netherlands Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Teniel Campbell (BikeExchange) at the Simac Ladies Tour (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Teniel Campbell, an exciting and engaging talent from Trinidad & Tobago, signed with the Australian Women's WorldTeam after a difficult year amid the COVID-19 pandemic  where riders spent months isolated from their families. 

The team pledged to give the 24-year-old, who came through the UCI's World Cycling Centre, the time and resources to develop in 2021.

Campbell had a solid season - working for the Australian team and finishing all of the Spring Classics, overcoming the death of a beloved uncle, coping with the weight of representing her country at the Tokyo Olympic Games. She emerged with impressive resilience demonstrated by her stage 6 victory in the Tour de l'Ardèche, which came a day after all of the team's bikes had been stolen and a new fleet rapidly assembled.

“It hurt like hell but the trust from the team and how well we were working these last days really motivated me and gave me a drive and strong urge to get a stage victory," Campbell said at the time.

The 2021 season was not the best year for BikeExchange, who lost riders to crashes and struggled to hold the same level after the loss of Van Vleuten to Movistar, but Campbell's promise was one of the bright points of the year and undoubtedly a successful transfer.

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Laura Weislo
Managing Editor

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing 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. Laura's beat is anti-doping, UCI governance and data analysis.