As a dedicated under-23 Continental team, NXTG Racing are unique in the women’s peloton, though they are set to be joined by Canyon-SRAM Generation in 2022.
At 22, Kool was one of the oldest riders in the team this season, and was often granted leadership opportunities as the team’s designated sprinter.
“It was really nice for me to actually have those chances,” Kool says. “I think it’s really important, having the opportunities to go for sprints or ride a classic.”
Kool not only had the opportunity to ride big races, she also recorded impressive results in them: in 2021 she won a stage of the Baloise Ladies Tour, came second at Drentse Acht van Westerveld and won the Grand Prix International d'Isbergues, becoming the last person to beat Elisa Balsamo before her World Championship win.
As well as nurturing her own success, Kool enjoyed being part of other riders’ development at NXTG.
“In the end, I was one of the oldest, so it was nice to give the younger girls trust and help them in the process, like involving them in my sprint train or other things," she said.
“I think it’s really good for young riders to start there, because you have the opportunity to take chances and show yourself. And you can also learn because if something goes wrong, it’s not that bad. It’s harder to make mistakes in a WorldTour team.”
Kool is one of two riders from NXTG Racing from the team making the jump to the Women’s WorldTour this year: 20-year-old Belgian Shari Bossuyt will ride for Canyon-SRAM next season. Both have spent two years with NXTG.
Whilst some talented riders join the WorldTour ranks earlier, some even directly junior teams, Kool says that path is not for everyone: “Some people are ready to go to the WorldTour straight away from juniors, but some riders need their time, and I needed my time.”
Under-23 teams like NXTG Racing are one way to bridge the gap between juniors and the professional peloton, but Kool doesn’t necessarily think more specifically under-23 teams are needed in women’s cycling.
“I think a lot of Continental teams are also kind of development teams,” she explains. “In women’s cycling, the Continental teams like Valcar and others also want to develop [riders] to the WorldTour.
“I also don’t think there are enough women riders to have a lot of under-23 teams. But if we grow, - and I think we will because women’s cycling is growing - then I think it can be more like the men’s with way more capability to start working with young riders.”
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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.
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