No Lorena Wiebes? Team DSM does just fine

The Dutch team took their third WWT win of the season on Thursday at Classic Brugge-De Panne.

De Panne – De Panne – cycling – Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR – Team DSM) pictured during Classic Brugge / De Panne (1.UWT) a one day race between Brugge and De Panne women (163.1km) – Photo: Rafa Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Abby Mickey
by Abby Mickey 23.03.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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When their sure-fire-win Lorena Wiebes made the move to SD Worx at the end of the 2022 season, Team DSM looked like they would have a hard time keeping their tally up. To add insult to injury, they also lost Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij, two of their long-time members known for aggressive, opportunistic riding. But two and a half months into the 2023 Women’s WorldTour season the Dutch team took their third WorldTour victory when Pfeiffer Georgi soloed away from her former teammate Wiebes in Classic Brugge-De Panne.

Team DSM countered the loss of three star riders by signing seven new riders between the ages of 18 and 24. The focus on development instead of trying to hire an established rider they knew would win meant leadership roles were surely to shift towards returning Team DSM riders.

Georgi has regularly been found at the pointy end of races since she signed for the team in 2019 but it’s usually been in service of Wiebes. Charlotte Kool turned heads when she was riding for NXTG Racing, now AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, in 2020 and 2021. She was picked up by Team DSM only last year but quickly became the right-hand woman for Wiebes. With Kool and Georgi guiding her way, Wiebes won a whopping 21 races in 2022, making her the winningest woman in the peloton last year (by comparison Annemiek van Vleuten only threw her arms in the air nine times, although they are clearly different types of riders).

Wiebes outsprinted Marianne Vos to win the first stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift

Wiebes is doing just fine without Kool and Georgi, she has already claimed three wins this season, including a stage of the WWT UAE Tour and Ronde van Drenthe, but Team DSM is also doing just fine without her.

It started on a high at the UAE Tour when Wiebes was matched up against her former leadout woman Kool. Kool took the first stage. Wiebes the second. When the final stage of four came down to a sprint it would be between the two women, and it was Kool who would prove the better on the day.

The next time Team DSM outsmarted Wiebes, and one of the other top sprinters in the women’s peloton former world champion Elisa Balsamo, was at Classic Brugge-De Panne. A race known for horrendous crosswinds and even worse crashes, Brugge-De Panne lived up to its reputation on Thursday. Once the race entered the final circuits around De Panne, Team DSM took the reigns and attempted to split the peloton in the wind. Their first attempt failed but on the second attempt, a group of ten found themselves off the front. It couldn’t really be called a break, as it contained two of the pre-race favourites, Wiebes and Balsamo, along with former world champion Amalie Dideriksen. Two teams in the move had two riders. Canyon-SRAM with Maike van der Duin and Shari Bossuyt and Team DSM with Georgi and 2020 Tokyo Olympian Megan Jastrab. Jastrab is another young rider picked up by Team DSM in 2021.

With 12 km to go, and not wanting to take Wiebes and Balsamo to the finish, Jastrab and Georgi tried to split the group in the crosswinds again, but Wiebes didn’t fall for their tricks. Next, they tried the classic one-two punch, and this tactic worked.

Georgi countered a move by Jastrab with 7 km to go and successfully got away, eventually winning by over a minute.

“We knew we couldn’t come to the finish with any of them because they are very fast. We just knew we were going to attack,” Georgi said at the finish. “Megan attacked first and set me up, then I just went as hard as I could. My legs were feeling pretty tired at that point, so it was just giving it everything, and the DS shouting in my ear really helped, just put the head down and go to the line.”

There are bigger races to come. Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday is the first of a string of highly anticipated races for both the men’s and women’s peloton including the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, and Ardennes week. Wiebes will surely be a favourite for a few of those races but so will Team DSM. As it turns out, they are doing just fine.

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