Six (more) riders to watch in 2019
As the new season is closing in, new ideas are always welcome. Yes, men’s racing is exciting, but what about women’s racing? Here are my
five six riders to watch this season in the Women World Tour.
The Italian rider, winner of last season classification for the best under 23 of the World Tour, traded teams for the first since becoming professional. After some initial troubles, faced by many as there isn’t a proper under 23 category, the 21-years-old from Bassano del Grappa showed her great potential in 2018. Great on the hills and packing an important sprint, in 2019 she will benefit from the experience of Carmen Small, who will guide her at Team Virtu. The goal is to improve as a GC rider, but the spring classics have been sweet for Bertizzolo and in 2019 she will be looking to get her first, deserved, win in the World Tour.
Ane Santesteban and Erica Magnaldi
WNT-Rotor roster is very interesting this season. They managed to sign a top sprinter and a top all-rounder like Kirsten Wild and Lisa Brennauer, but my eyes are on the new dynamic climbing duo formed by Ane Santesteban and Erica Magnaldi. The Spanish seems to have improved a lot over the years and the top-10 at last year’s Giro d’Italia should give her all the confidence in the world. The Italian was the sensation of last season: late bloomer because of her studies having the priority, Magnaldi has been climbing with the best in various stage races, including the Giro, before putting the icing on the cake with a win in Ardèche. I will be following this team, Ane and Eki in particular, very closely.
While everyone is (rightfully) speaking of her ex-teammate Katie Hall, who dominated the American scene last year and signed for Boels, I’m more intrigued by Leah Thomas. Arguably one of the best TTer in the US, she will be making her debut with a European team, Bigla, with some impressive results under the belt. Besides her win at the Tour de Feminin in Czech Republic, the fifth place in the World Championships time trial was a thing of beauty. She will be eager to start again from here, while improving as a climber and supporting her teammates (Cille Uttrup Ludwig in particular). I also expect Leah to put the hammer down here and there to try and win alone, when possible.
Breakout season alert. Without Ellen van Dijk in the picture Mackaij will be Sunweb star for the cobbled classics, together with Coryn Rivera. While her progress have been noticeable, her last big win is from 2015, where she surprised everyone at Gent-Wevelgem. Still very young, this will be her sixth season with Sunweb. Can it be the one where she joins the elite riders of the World Tour?
Thi That Nguyen
The Pocket Rocket from An Giang. The wildcard of this Riders To Watch. European teams got to know her better last season when she won the Dwars door de Westhoek: while riding for the World Cycling Centre selection (a UCI team that supports and develops young riders from less known countries, to put it simple), Nguyen managed to beat the up-and-coming Lorena Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo. Following the Take That and have a little patience motto, Lotto Soudal signed her. She will have the chance to shine in many classics and stage races, while learning from Kopecky and other experienced riders.
© Cover image from Tornanti.