Riding is Life


A shot of MARIANNE VOS framed by flags on the podium of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The 2024 Wheel Talk Podcast Draft!

The crew of the Wheel Talk Podcast put together teams in an NFL-style draft to compete throughout the season, for fame and glory and not an Everesting.

Not to be outdone … welcome to the 2024 Escape Collective Wheel Talk Podcast Women’s Draft!

Jonny did a great job in the intro to the men’s draft talking about America, hot dogs, and rubber band balls so I highly recommend you check that out. Since I went into the women’s version knowing next to nothing about how the draft works or why we were doing it apart from having a lot of fun, I have less to say on the specifics of fairness and beauty in an NFL-style draft.

We called together the usual Wheel Talk hosts – Gracie Elvin, Loren Rowney and myself – plus two of our favourite regular voices – Matt de Neef and Matilda ‘Tils’ Raynolds – to play this season-long game. All experts in women’s cycling in their own way, and with at least four incredibly competitive individuals among the group, how could this possibly go wrong?

Originally, we were going to pick only eight riders, because the men’s draft seemed a bit long (when you were in it at least) and because women’s teams are usually smaller, but when we were recording the podcast there were so many names still on the table we made a mid-podcast decision to up the team sizes to 10.

Throughout the season UCI road points from our 10-rider teams will be tallied up. On the first of November, we will have one winner and one loser. The prize, aside from a lifetime of boasting, is TBD. Got any ideas? Drop them in the comments. None of us are going to do an Everesting like in the men’s draft so don’t bother with that. (Matt has, in fact, already completed an Everesting and you can find his book about the phenomenon here).

The five of us picked teams in a snake-style draft, so from Matt to Loren and then Loren back to Matt. All riders were eligible, not only WorldTour, but participants were barred from picking more than three riders from one team (no SD Worx-Protime stacking allowed!) There was also a rule that everyone had to have one rider 22 or younger and one rider 32 or over.

It was also determined, because you can never predict how these things are going to go, that on June 1st we will convene again and everyone participating in the draft is allowed to swap out one rider from their team.

Unlike in Jonny’s version of the draft I made the executive decision to have a bit more fun naming teams (sorry Jonny). There are a lot of problems in cycling, and naming rights sponsors are one of them, so instead of putting our fans through the wringer trying to remember what the teams are named after the lead sponsor of five years jumps ship, we exercised our creativity to come up with our own unique (in some cases) team names. The only real bummer is there’s less fun Photoshop in this piece compared to Jonny’s.

An audio version of the draft is available on the Wheel Talk Podcast and Escape Collective podcast feed everywhere podcasts are found and if you want it to remain unspoiled, pause reading here and come back after you’ve listened.

Before we dive into the specifics, we would love for you all to get involved. Hit up the comments or the Wheel Talk channel on Discord and let us know who you would draft for your team, what massive mistakes we made, and what you would name your team if given the chance.

The team names

Matt de Neef: Amateur Pro Cycling

“I just quite like the idea of having amateur and pro in the same team name, and I came up with an elaborate backstory that was funny in my head but …”

Matilda ‘Tils’ Raynolds: Collective Cartel 

“Mine’s been on a bit of a journey. When I heard the men’s I thought we’d have to pick a pro team, so I was going to go with AG Insurance, thinking that Patrick Lefevere put his foot in it one too many times, all the sponsors had left the men’s team, [and] they’d all moved to the women’s team making it a super team. So it was going to be AG Insurance-TikTok Collective.

“But I really like the idea of having a member-funded team. As I am not employed by Escape Collective I am not sucking up to Caley so my team name is Collective Cartel.”

Other options for team names Tils dug up on ChatGPT (for your future cycling league): Zwift Sirens, Pedal Queens, Cyclon Sisters, Souless Spinners, Wildfire Women, Creme de la Crank (should we change the podcast name??), Radiant Riders, Spin Syndicate …

Abby Mickey: Death By A Thousand Attacks

“It’s a Taylor Swift reference.”

Gracie Elvin: RBF Spokeswoman Racing

“My team name is [Resting Bitch Face] Spokeswoman Racing. My very first bike was a Spokesman, so it’s now Spokeswoman, a nice double entendre because I believe in advocacy in (currently) commentating so ya, that’s my name.”

Loren Rowney: Super Lekker Pro Potato Women’s Cycling Team

“Mine’s the weirdest … it’s Super Lekker Pro Potato Women’s Cycling Team because that’s one of the biggest frites manufacturers in Belgium, and seeing as I’m living here and love the Classics, that’s what I’m going with.”

Marianne Vos follows Lotte Kopecky as the world champion tries to shake the GOAT during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

The rider draft

Matt drew the lucky first pick and even though you’d think his choice would be obvious, he let us stew before he did indeed pick who everyone was thinking. Below you can see a chart of all our picks 1-50.

Some brief banter

Abby: “Matt, do you need a timer, or can we all guess who you’ll pick for the first rider?”

Loren: “I wonder if Matt’s pick has changed based on what happened on the weekend.”

Matt: “I think there are two picks you could make. It has to be Vollering or Kopecky, honestly. Based on last year I would have gone Vollering, but … let’s go with Kopecky.”

Gracie: “I would have gone Kopecky too.”

Matt: “There are UCI points at the Olympics right?”

Lotte Kopecky during the track European Championships


Matt: “Abby, you’ve got both your young rider and your older rider, with Vos and Van Anrooij.”

Abby: “I didn’t do that on purpose”. I wanted that rule because I wanted everyone to have a young rider but it felt wrong to say ‘OK, you only need a young rider’ because I am of the opinion we should do away with the Best Young Rider jersey”.


Gracie: “I’m going to go with Mavi Garcia. She’s 40, and I think she’s coming into her very best years. I reckon she’s going to have a good year, she’s going to be a bit of a [Annemiek van Vleuten] physically, maybe not with results, but I think she’s happy and strong.”


Abby: “Mischa Bredewold.”

Mischa Bredewold pictured before Omloop van het Hageland.

Matt: “Damn.”

Abby: *evil laughter* “I was hoping she was too far down the sheet and no one would remember.”

Loren: “I had her on my list.”

Abby: “She was what, fifth this weekend?”

Gracie: “And second!”

Abby: “I am excited for her future as a rider.”


Abby: “We can do 10 riders if you all want to do 10 riders.”

Matt: “That’s fine by me, I’ve got plenty more I can choose from.”

Gracie: “Let’s do it.”

Abby: “Alright we’re doing 10. Matt, keep this going.”

Matt: “Well this is great for me! Kristen Faulkner and Anna Henderson.”

Loren: “Damn you!”

Abby: “Damn you indeed. I would have picked Henderson.”

Anna Henderson at team camp 2024.

Standings as of February 26

Gracie: 2,671
Matt: 2,316
Abby: 1,647
Tils: 1,603
Loren: 1,592

Points will be updated after major events. The next update will be after Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift (unless someone on Discord wants to keep score and use the standings to tease us).

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