It’s being a season of discovery for Ricarda Bauernfeind. The German rider, who turned 22 in April, resuscitated her cycling career last winter by joining the Canyon-Sram Generation development program and has quickly showed her talent in several UCI and non-UCI races.
This week, Bauernfeind delivered a landmark and potentially breakthrough performance on the first edition of the Vuelta Ciclista Andalucia Ruta Del Sol, the inaugural women's version of the long-standing Ruta del Sol-Vuelta a Andalucía men’s event.
The cyclist from Eichstätt, a small city in the Bayern region, landed top-three results in all three stages of the race, which featured mountainous, demanding parcours. She finished third on the final overall classification, just 15 seconds behind the overall winner, and she stood on the podium alongside two established Women’s WorldTour riders; Movistar Team’s Arlenis Sierra and UAE Team ADQ’s Mavi García.
“I didn’t expect to mark such great results,” Bauernfeind accepted unassumingly. “I don’t know where I will be in one or two years, but at the moment I’m really happy and enjoying my performances.”
Bauernfeind’s burgeoning cycling career is a remarkable one. She began nurturing it at age 12, and became a usual member of Germany’s national squad both for the road and the track, where she got several medals at different European Championships.
However, over the last two years she left cycling aside after choosing to prioritize her Teaching studies in Munich’s TUM [Technische Universität München] over the passion to race on a bike – out on the road, indoors at the velodrome or on the rollers.
“In 2019, in my first year of University, I decided to focus on my studies and do cycling just for fun,” she explained. “Anyway, I got better at cycling every day, and 2020 and 2021 turned out to be my best two seasons ever. This is how I got noticed by Canyon-Sram to join its development program.
“As of now, we normally race in the weekends. If we don’t have much time between races, I stay in Girona with my teammates. But every two or three weeks I fly home to follow my university courses. Sometimes it’s quite hard to combine cycling and studying, but for me it is quite important to keep up with both facets of my life because I want to train both my body and my mind.”
Canyon-Sram Generation is a development program that pursues cutting the teeth of eight riders from seven different countries – and four continents. The team’s season began with a series of non-UCI races in Spain, mostly belonging to the Spanish Cup that constitutes the main target of the year for most of the country’s UCI Continental teams.
Bauernfeind first managed to win one of the three Spanish Cup events she contested, in Pontevedra, and went on to an impressive fourth place in her first UCI appointment of the season, the GP Féminin de Chambéry one-day race. The Vuelta a Andalucía was her first UCI stage race since 2019, when being just 19 she completed both the Festival Elsy Jacobs and the Thüringen Ladies Tour in the span of one month.
“Ricarda is really consistent as a rider,” explained her the team's sports director, Adam Szabo. “She is an all-rounder with a winning mindset. She is good at climbing, although she is yet to realize her full climbing potential.
“Her track cycling background has given her some skills on the bike and some power to sprint fast. She is also incredible at descending. Her biggest room of improvement lies on tactics, on how she reads races – and that’s something you gain with race days. All in all, she is bound to become a very good rider in the future.”
Bauernfeind’s next challenge is this year’s Thüringen Ladies Tour, a six-day UCI 2.Pro stage race that will be held in Germany at the end of May. “Later on this year, we hope she will be selected by the German national team for the European and World Championships,” says Szabo.
The bright performances delivered by Bauernfeind over this 2022 season have caught some eyes amongst the biggest teams in women’s cycling. As we asked her whether she has already received some offers for next season, she humbly admited she has. “I guess some teams are noticing my results,” she gave away with a shy smile – one we will get used to see in top-level WWT races sooner rather than later.
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Fran Reyes is a Spanish sports journalist based in Granada. Back when he was a child, he loved cycling and he loved writing. Therefore, becoming a cycling writer made complete sense as a life project.
Over the years, he has published pieces as a freelance journalist at Ciclismo a Fondo, The Cycling Podcast, Cyclingtips, and Cyclingnews. He has also worked for ASO and Unpublic, organisers of the Tour de France and Vuelta a Españ, and made some of his dreams come true by laying the foundations of Spanish professional cycling team Equipo Kern Pharma, among other press officer roles at pro teams.
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