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Chloe Dygert makes surprise transfer to Canyon-SRAM in 2021

Chloe Dygert
Chloe Dygert (Image credit: Getty Images)

Chloé Dygert is set to leave Twenty20 Pro Cycling having signed a four-year contract with Canyon-SRAM and will embark on her first season of racing on the Women’s WorldTour in 2021. 

“Honestly, it’s the best team for me—willing to work with my track schedule and giving me the freedom to still be the athlete I strive to be,” Dygert said.

“I’m excited to see myself in the Canyon-SRAM colours. It will be my first time racing on the road in Europe but my coach and I agree that the time for that has now come in my career. I’m confident that Canyon-SRAM will provide the best environment for me to achieve my future goals over the next four years. Also, there’s lots of pink.

Cyclingnews understands that Dygert had multiple contract offers but that she had made a final decision to sign a four-year contract with Canyon-SRAM before the UCI Road World Championships held in September in Imola. 

"Chloé is one of, if not the, strongest up and coming talents in world cycling. Chloé has achieved an incredible amount of success in her time at Twenty20. Nicola [Cranmer] and her team have raised many talents to international merits and with the still very young age of Chloé, we’re looking forward to continuing to support her as a person and an athlete over the coming four years," said Ronny Lauke, team manager and Canyon-SRAM.

“Chloé is an outstanding force of nature in time trials and with her overall strength she is a very diverse rider. She will open up new tactical opportunities for our team during road races. I am also confident with her personality, that she will add willpower and tenacity into our talented group of riders.

"We will fully support Chloé on her dual road and track approach towards the coming Summer Olympic Games, and will plan her 2021 season together with her home coach, Kristin Armstrong, after Chloé has recovered from her crash at the Road World Championships in September,” Lauke added. 

Dygert is recovering from a laceration to her left leg sustained in a crash during the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Imola in September, but she is looking ahead to a healthy future in world-class road and track racing, and with her eyes still firmly fixed on the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“My focus in 2021 is clear—the Tokyo Olympic Games. I just want to heal and be ready in time, and my goals are to win gold in the time trial and the team pursuit,” stated Dygert. 

“I haven’t raced on the road in Europe yet because I still had goals to accomplish before we could move to that one. I’ll stay working with my coach Kristin Armstrong. We’ve always set goals and gone after them one at a time, without spreading ourselves too thin. We’ll keep that approach next year and we’re looking forward to the supportive environment of Canyon-SRAM and its partners."

Dygert was on her way to winning a second consecutive world title in the individual time trial at the World Championships when she crashed out on a descent, hitting an unpadded section of the guardrail, while on the return to the finish line in Imola. 

She was airlifted to a hospital in Bologna where it was confirmed that she had suffered a deep laceration to her left leg and required surgery, but according to USA Cycling, she was expected to make a full recovery. 

Her coach three-time Olympic gold medallist Kristin Armstrong told Cyclingnews that the accident was devastating but that she had no doubt that Dygert would come back stronger.

Dygert took her first steps after surgery on September 29 and then was released from hospital on October 1, and then returned to her family home in the US to begin her recovery process.

“There was never a time I felt bad for myself. There’s obviously bad days. But I’m positive. I’m not stressed. I’m not worried. I’m not mad. I’m not resentful," Dygert told Indystar.

“I’m ready to do everything I can. Because I want to win the Olympics. I want to win that time trial. I want to be the best. I want to do everything to be the best. I’m not taking shortcuts.”

Making a mark on world-class road racing

Chloe Dygert

Chloe Dygert (Twenty20 Pro Cycling) (Image credit: Twenty20 Pro Cycling)

It’s hard to believe that Dygert is just 23 years old given the long list of illustrious results on her palmares. She secured double world titles in the junior time trial and road race at the World Championships in Richmond in 2015. In the elite ranks, she was fourth in the time trial at the World Championships in Bergen in 2017. 

Two years later, in Yorkshire, she secured an astonishing victory in the time trial, where she put over a minute into Dutch teammates Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten, and she followed that performance with a fourth in the road race, among a decisive chase group with Amanda Spratt and van der Breggen, in pursuit of eventual solo winner Van Vleuten.

On the track, Dygert has won seven gold medals in combined Individual Pursuit and Team Pursuit events at the World Championships, and a silver medal in the Team Pursuit at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She has been named to the USA Cycling national team that will compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer, on the track and road events, and she told Cyclingnews that she plans on competing in the next six Olympic Games.

Dygert has suggested over the years that she wasn’t interested in racing a full-time road racing calendar on the Women’s WorldTour, in fact, her first world-class road race was at the Yorkshire World Championships where she placed fourth last year. She has said in previous interviews that she would prefer to compete in her favourite disciplines; time trialling, and team pursuit and individual pursuit on the track, events where she has become almost unbeatable.

Twenty20 Pro Cycling team manager Nicola Cranmer said in a press release that Dygert's six years with the development programme provided her with the balance she needed to grow and succeed, and she now supports Dygert's decision to move up to the WorldTour.

“It’s hard to believe it's been six years since Chloé was recruited to our team,” said Cranmer. “Although it appears Chloé has God-given strength and talent, many assume these talents spring out of nowhere or burst on the scene—but it takes years of patience, nurturing, mapping, and of course the partnership with her coach, Kristin Armstrong, to develop an athlete like Chloé.

"Our team’s relationship with USA Cycling and Gary Sutton’s track program also contributed greatly to Chloé’s success. A tandem schedule built around very specific track and road events was mindfully scripted months ahead. It was not about volume with Chloé, it was about balance," she added.

A shift to competing with a WorldTour team in 2021 could see Dygert dividing her efforts between some road racing in Europe and international track racing. It’s common for teams to provide leeway, additional support, and schedule adjustments for those athletes who are expected to compete in the Olympic Games, and that will likely be the case for Dygert at Canyon-SRAM.

Development with Twenty20 Pro Cycling

Chloe Dygert

Chloe Dygert with coach Kristin Armstrong and team manager Nicola Cranmer (Image credit: Twenty20 Pro Cycling)

Dygert began her cycling career as a junior with Cranmer’s high-profile development programme Twenty16. The team is committed to developing cyclists from across North America with a goal of helping those athletes realise their Olympic dreams. It adjusts its name every four years to match the Olympic cycles ever since 2012 in London, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, 2020 in Tokyo, and next year the team will renew its quadrennial name, Twenty 24 Pro Cycling, ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris.

Dygert has been fully committed to the Cranmer’s team for the previous six years where she flourished as a multi-time and multi-discipline world champion. She was expected to stay with the squad through Tokyo Olympic Games, however, the event was postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will now take place next summer.

"Chloe is leaving and I encouraged it," Cranmer told Cyclingnews. "It all came together before her accident. Our goal was to get Chloe through Tokyo and then try and get her into a position to do more European racing. The pandemic blew that up with the Olympic Games being postponed another year."

Cranmer said that Dygert wanted to stay another season to fulfill her commitment to the development programme, but that it would have been unreasonable to expect her to stay given that she had an array of offers to move up to the Women’s WorldTour in 2021.

"Honestly, Chloe stands by her commitments and felt guilty for not staying through Tokyo [postponed 2021 - ed.], but I couldn’t ask her to stay another year when teams were making her life-changing offers," Cranmer said.

The relationship between Dygert and Cranmer is more akin to family than that of a team manager and a rider, and the pair are currently living in close proximity in Boise, Idaho. Dygert is coached by Armstrong, and that coach-athlete relationship will remain intact through her transfer to Canyon-SRAM.

"We will remain good friends, she is my neighbour in Boise, and I will always be part of her team. We have an open dialogue and I am completely in support of her move to Canyon-SRAM," Cranmer said. "She will remain with Kristin Armstrong as her coach, and the team allowed for that. Most transfers are cut-throat, but Chloe and I talk every day and we really wanted to make sure people understand that our relationship continues mutually and we have open dialogue."

Canyon-SRAM is well-known as being one of the best time trialling teams in the world. They won the team time trial world title five times under various different title sponsors; as Specialized-Lululemon in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and as Velocio-SRAM in 2015 and as Canyon-SRAM in 2018, which was the last time the trade team time trial was held at the World Championships.

"Canyon-SRAM is a good programme, partly because of the bike company [Canyon] and partly because of the team," she added. "They made her a huge offer, and she couldn’t say no. She will still have a focus on the time trial and the Olympics, and the team will expect her to also race some on the road.

"The move has to happen for her. It also gives us a chance to cycle back and work on developing the new and up-and-coming Chloes."

Cranmer announced that the Twenty24 Pro Cycling will continue as an domestic elite women’s team and support eight to ten riders, while they will also remain committed to the Twenty24 Development team roster of nine riders in 2021.

“I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of Twenty16 and Twenty20 for the past six years,” Dygert said. “Nicola has built such a unique and inclusive program through her time in the sport—they had so much patience and supported me through every high moment and more importantly every low moment.

"I’m so grateful to have the encouragement and friendship with Nicola as I take this step in my career, and she will always be a part of my support system. I am looking forward to following what Twenty24 does next—I just know that Nicola has such great vision in the sport, and it will be fun to watch up and coming juniors in the years to come.”