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Silke Smulders steps up to Women's WorldTeam with Liv Racing

CASCATE DEL TOCE ITALY JULY 05 Silke Smulders of Netherlands and Team Lotto Soudal Ladies during the 32nd Giro dItalia Internazionale Femminile 2021 Stage 4 a 112km Individual Time Trial from Fondovalle to Cascate Del Toce 1714m ITT GiroDonne UCIWWT on July 05 2021 in Cascate Del Toce Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Silke Smulders (Image credit: Getty Images)

Liv Racing have announced their seventh signing adding 20-year-old Dutch talent Silke Smulders to their roster for 2022. The team will also change names to become Liv Racing Xstra with the addition of Xstra Digital Storage as a co-title sponsor.

“Together with the team management I talked about my personal goals and the ambitions of the team. That conversation was very pleasant and relaxed. It reinforced the positive feeling I always had as an outsider with this team," Smulders said.

"Liv Racing looks modern and professional to the outside world. In addition, the offensive way of racing often appeals to the imagination. I am happy that I can be part of that from next season."

Smulders is a former ice skater and student at the University of Eindhoven. She rode her first season at under-23 level in 2020. That included being part of the Dutch national squad for the U23 road race at the European Championships. 

She joined Lotto Soudal Ladies as a neo-pro in 2021 where she consistently finished inside the top-20 in stages at Giro d'Italia Donne and Simac Ladies Tour.

“Last season I rode for the first time at the highest level. In the difficult races with gradients, I have always performed pretty well. I was often in the front group and now I want to slowly learn to ride finals," she said. 

"In addition, the spring classics should suit me in theory – I haven’t ridden them much so far. With this transfer to Liv Racing Xstra, a renewed training approach and the tactical insight and experience of Giorgia Bronzini and Wim Stroetinga I should be able to take the next step in my career.”

The team announced sports management hires Giorgia Bronzini as sports director and Wim Stroetinga as sports director and performance manager. The team have also announced signing new riders Eva Buurman, Amber van der Hulst, Katia Ragusa, Tereza Neumanova, Rachele Barnieri and Ton Quincy.

Returning riders include Jeanne Korevaar, Sabrina Stultiens, Ayesha McGowan, Alison Jackson, Marta Jaskulska and Valerie Demey.

Liv Racing will, once again, be part of the top-tier of teams racing on the Women's WorldTour but welcome a new co-title sponsor Xstra Digital Storage. The company is based in Oosterhout, the Netherlands. 

It is specialized in digital storage. It has been selling high-quality computer components and products for data storage for 25 years. Xstra has several European offices and serves customers throughout Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

“We are one of the longest active teams in professional women’s cycling and in all those years we have made a great contribution to professionalizing our sport. With the new, additional partnership we build on our heritage and above all we are very much focused on the future," said Team manager Eric van den Boom.

"It is our goal to grow to the absolute world top, and to do so in our own, recognizable way that fits the past of our team. Developing cycling talents and being successful together in the most important races. That is what it is all about.”

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.