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Niewiadoma leads Canyon-SRAM at Tour de France Femmes, Dygert continues Epstein-Barr recovery

LIEGE BELGIUM APRIL 24 Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland and Team CanyonSRAM Racing competes during the 6th Liege Bastogne Liege 2022 Femmes a 1421km one day race from Bastogne to Lige LBL LBLwomen UCIWWT on April 24 2022 in Liege Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) (Image credit: Getty images)

Kasia Niewiadoma will lead the Canyon-SRAM team alongside Pauliena Rooijakkers at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift that kicks off on Sunday in Paris. 

Notably absent from the roster is North American Chloé Dygert who had hoped to compete in the eight-day race but is still recovering from Epstein-Barr virus she contracted this spring.

"Regarding Chloé, due to some setbacks in the recovery process, our team had to decide, together with Chloé, that she is not ready from a fitness or health perspective to race the 8 days of Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift," Canyon-SRAM told Cyclingnews.

"She will continue to focus on her recovery and we can’t predict her exact program for the remainder of the season yet."

Dygert experienced multiple surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation to recover from a leg injury sustained in a horrendous and debilitating crash at Imola Worlds in 2020. She joined Canyon-SRAM at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February, however, upon returning to the US in March she began to feel unwell.

"There was a lack of energy and fatigue. The breaking point was a low threshold workout at which Chloé couldn’t even ride tempo. She had a mononucleosis blood test done in which she was tested positive along with the antibody tests that were well over the normal numbers. The first symptoms were the lack of energy and fatigue, followed by other typical symptoms of a mononucleosis," Canyon-SRAM told Cyclingnews following her early diagnosis.

Dygert had hoped to return to racing in time for her goals at the Tour de France Femmes, however, Canyon-SRAM confirmed that she is not yet ready to begin racing again and that her programme for the remainder of the season is unknown.

"The recovery timeline is individual and can not be predicted at this point," Canyon-SRAM told Cyclingnews following Dygert's diagnosis. "The recovery of EBV can take weeks or months depending on persistence of symptoms and blood tests."

Dygert took to social media to express her frustration regarding her recovery process.

"Mono, just like my leg, is one of the most frustrating illnesses/injury. No matter how many times I convince myself I am good to go my body just reminds me that it’s not. The unknown, the uncontrollable, my biggest weaknesses and is what I try so hard to make my strengths," Dygert wrote on last Thursday.

Powerful team to contest yellow jersey

Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM)

Pauliena Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM)  (Image credit: Thomas Maheux)

Niewiadoma and Rooijakkers will co-lead Canyon-SRAM at the Tour de France Femmes with a support team that includes Tiffany Cromwell, Alena Amialiusik, Elise Chabbey and Soraya Paladin.

Niewiadoma last raced at the Women's Tour where she finished third overall, and opted to skip the Giro Donne to focus on the Tour de France Femmes. Rooijakkers has had a strong season finishing second overall at Itzulia Women and third overall at Tour de Suisse, and winning Durango - Durango Emakumeen Saria.

"The Tour de France is the biggest bike race and brand with the most expansive reach in the sport. Having now our Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, we will benefit from that prestigious name. Globally, many more people will be made aware that women compete in bike races at the highest level. This is a milestone. The entire sport will benefit, and those running and investing in the sport for years already will be rewarded with increased attention," said Ronny Lauke, team manager and sport director.

“For us, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has been a big goal since its initial announcement. We believe we have selected a strong and experienced team for the tour. A versatile lineup that can handle the additional demands of a race of this calibre. We aim for stages through strength in depth performances and for a top five in the GC. Our selected riders have prepared well through different pathways. We are convinced the entire team is well prepared, so we can confidently take on the eight stages."

Cromwell, who is one of the most experienced on-road captains in the peloton, confirmed her preparations for the eight-day stage race have gone well. 

“I've had a long block of training since Women's Tour. I also did some course recon during this period, so I know what's in store for the hardest stages. In the last two weeks, things have started to click. My form is strong, and I feel good on the bike and ready to go,” Cromwell said

“My goal overall is to have a strong tour. My main role will be team support and road captain. We have an incredibly strong team for the race, especially for the demanding and climb-heavy stages. I know the last two stages aren't suited to me, but everything up until then, I believe I can go deep into the final of the stages. I aim to be there for my teammates to help set us up for stage victories or the overall. Of course, if there are opportunities along the way on the non-GC days, I'll be willing to put my hand up if it fits with the team plan.”

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