This is my first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on the ground. Last year, I was knee-deep in new baby diapers and unable to cover the race from the press centre. When I first dropped my bags in the hotel in Clermont-Ferrand earlier this week I had a thought: are there any Taylor Swift fans in the peloton?
The question plagued me for days, so finally at the start of stage 3 I started asking around.
The general response was one of neutrality. Annemiek van Vleuten has some Taylor Swift in her riding playlist but can’t name a song. Elise Chabbey hasn’t heard ‘Long Live’ but she would be able to hum some lyrics. Kasia Niewiadoma is not a fan.
I thought my search was for nothing until I asked Jess Allen, who was thrilled to tell me her favourite song and asked if anyone has an in for Eras Tour tickets. I kept asking riders to name their favourite song, at times getting some very odd looks. It’s apparently not a question the peloton gets asked often. Shocker.
Much to my joy though, my search uncovered a few true fans (peep Pfeiffer Georgi’s pick, love that for her).
So if you’ve ever wondered what your favourite rider’s favourite Taylor Swift song is, I’ve got the answer for you. And if you want to know what those songs say about the riders that chose them, I’ve covered that too.
There’s a lot of bike racing to analyse, and you can find that on Escape Collective all week long, plus on the Wheel Talk Podcast, but sometimes what you really need to know to get hooked on cycling is a bit of personality, and what better way to get to know someone than their music choices.
And if you, like Elisa Longo Borghini, don’t listen to Taylor Swift, that’s fine. But remember, the worst kind of person is the person who makes others feel bad for being excited about something, according to Miss Swift herself.
Emma Norsgaard: ‘Anti-Hero‘
The Cambridge Dictionary defines an antihero as “the central character in a play, book, or film who does not have traditionally heroic qualities, such as courage, and is admired instead for what society generally considers to be a weakness of their character”.
It’s a fascinating pick from the Danish sprinter, and surely Iain Treloar could pick it apart for days.
Traditionally an antihero is someone who is morally complex, defiant, even cynical at times. Well, Emma is anything but cynical; in fact she is more often than not seen with a smile on her face. But she is definitely complex. Or at least her cycling is.
Emma was a sprinter when she started racing but after joining Movistar she adjusted her targets, with the Classics in mind. She doesn’t hold back when it comes to speaking her mind, and some could even assume she was stubborn. But, she loves a good dinner party and isn’t afraid of a bop.
Anna Henderson (and all of Jumbo-Visma): ‘Anti-Hero‘
You may not want to cheer for the men’s Jumbo-Visma team but it’s hard not to love the women’s side of the Dutch unit. Anna and her teammates love to sing ‘Anti-Hero’ as they get ready to take on the rest of the peloton, although Marianne Vos isn’t as much a fan as the British superstar.
When Jumbo-Visma end up in crisis they have one of the best in the peloton to keep the team on track, and at tea time everyone agrees they are a team worth loving, even if they can sometimes be a monster on the hill.
If a race isn’t exciting they aren’t the problem, as they have been more and more active with riders like Riejanne Markus, Coryn Labecki, Karlijn Swinkels, and Anna herself.
Jumbo-Visma’s season so far is a tale as old as time. With Marianne coming back from an early-season surgery the team hasn’t had as many wins as usual, but it’s the last time they will be focused on one rider, with the team improving every race.
Pfeiffer Georgi: ‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) (10-minute version) (From the Vault)’
Only a serious fan would pick Taylor’s All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) (10-minute Version) (From the Vault) as their favourite song, so clearly Pfeiffer has good taste.
Pfeiffer isn’t afraid of a good cry, and despite being an absolute force in the peloton, she has a sensitive side, even if she’s a little forgetful when it comes to leaving her team kit behind at the race hotel. Her first years racing mean a lot to her, and she enjoys looking back and reminiscing about the good times she had before she signed for Team Sunweb in 2019.
Even if she remembers everything about races lost, she isn’t about to let the memories haunt her. She moves on quickly if things don’t go her way, and learns from her mistakes, which has carried her to win two road national titles and the Women’s WorldTour one-day Brugge-De Panne.
You may have an idea of who Pfeiffer is, but her riding style is ever-changing and evolving based on what her team needs from her.
If Pfeiffer has one flaw, it’s that she’s bad at telling jokes.
Alison Jackson: ‘No Body, No Crime ft. HAIM‘
Alison is proactive. She’s not about to sit around and wait for things to happen; she’s going to tackle things head-on. She loves a good mystery, loves a challenge, and above all is loyal to the end.
Alison also isn’t going to shy away from a little bit of drama. When she’s not racing Alison loves to chat over a glass of red on the balcony under the Spanish sun.
She’s also tenacious. If she gets something into her head, she won’t quit until it’s accomplished. She might even sneak up on you to get what she wants and catch you off guard. Don’t ever turn your back on her, because her loyalty doesn’t extend beyond her inner circle. If someone wrongs one of her own she’s going to take matters into her own hands.
Kathrin Hammes: ‘Welcome to New York‘
Kathrin likes a fresh start, even if it’s in a familiar place. She’s observant and approachable but she can be serious if needed. She’s considerate of other riders and doesn’t like to shove in the bunch if she can help it.
“Like any great love, it drives you crazy but you wouldn’t change anything.” Kathrin signed her first pro contract in 2015 with TIBCO-SVB. She spent three years with the American team before spending one year at Trek-Drops and three years at Ceratzit-WNT.
In 2022 she returned to her first team now under the name EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, and with the move, she seems more comfortable and confident than ever before. She is one of the most consistent riders in the peloton, and while cycling can be frustrating and a win has been elusive since she took the Tour du Jura in Switzerland in 2022, she still loves the chase and the fight of each race.
She loves the glitz and glamour of professional cycling and all the promise the sport contains.
Megan Jastrab: ‘Fifteen’
Megan is shy, at least until you get to know her. Once she’s comfortable around you her smile and laugh is infectious. She loves her friends and when you’re important to her you will be part of her life forever. But she isn’t quick to give her heart away.
Megan’s not fully sure who she is just yet. She’s still learning what her passions are and what her strengths are. While bike racing is important to her now, it’s not the be-all-end-all. She knows there will be life after cycling, and she’s excited for that change when it comes.
For now, she’s enjoying the life she’s living, making friends, and discovering more about herself along the way.
(Megan is also a fan of ‘Fearless’, a fantastic song, and I think the name says everything it needs to about Megan’s personality.)
Lauretta Hanson: ‘Shake it Off’
Lauretta isn’t about to let anything that happens out on the road get her down. She’s the master of taking it each day at a time and having a blast doing it. She works hard, and sometimes she carries the whole team on her back, but she can’t stop won’t stop being one of the best domestiques in the peloton.
She’s had a few tumbles but she still gets back up and keeps cruising. No matter what happens she can be relied on to make her teammates smile and keep the mood light on the bus. She wants everyone to dance to the beat of their own drum and embraces them for their strengths and weaknesses, and be their backup when they ask.
She’s lightning on her bike, and sometimes viewers miss her (because live coverage starts after most of her hard work is done) but she’s going to keep doing what she’s doing because the people that matter know they couldn’t do it without her.
Magdeleine Vallieres: ’22’
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to know more about Canadian Magdeleine Vallieres. She’s flown under the radar since joining EF Education-TIBCO-SVB in 2022, after riding for the World Cycling Center for two years. She’s only 21 years old (she turns 22 on August 10!) but she has a lot of experience already in the peloton.
She’s happy, free, and confused at the same time but never lonely when she’s around her teammates. She loves to dance, and even has a secret handshake with Alison Jackson, and she will definitely make you laugh but not on purpose (most of the time it’s from her contagious laugh that if you’re lucky enough to hear you’ll never forget).
Magdeleine started riding a bike at nine years old, and as such does one of the best trackstands you’ll ever see. She can party in both French and English, thanks to her upbringing in Sherbrooke, Quebec. She has a massive heart, and will always go above and beyond for her teammates.
Chiara Consonni: ’22‘
Chiara is fun to be around. She is a bubble of energy and everyone wants to be her friend, just to hear her laugh. She never takes anything too seriously, but that doesn’t mean she’s not good at what she does. She’s only just getting started as a sprinter in the peloton, but it feels like a perfect time for her to breakthrough as one of the best sprinters in the peloton.
The more fun she has on the bike, and with her team, the better her results, so she tries to always keep the mood light.
Chiara loved being 22, but 23 and 24 have brought incredible memories and as the years tick by she will rack up more wins, and make better memories.
Jess Allen, Alice Barnes, and Sara Poidevin: ‘Love Story ‘
Jess, Alice, and Sara believe in fairytale endings. They are hopeful that every bike race is going to be the best day ever, and when they’re training they daydream about how it might feel to take a major WorldTour win. Some may call their attitude naive but others may call it optimistic.
While they would never go against their director, they also aren’t going to mindlessly obey if he/she says they need to stay away from a good breakaway.
They can never be told how to feel, and they don’t need to be saved. If they find themselves in a sticky situation mid race they’ll find a way out themselves. And they aren’t going to wait around for an opportunity to take the race.
Mischa Bredewold: ‘Wildest Dreams‘
Mischa is keen to get out of the peloton. She loves a good breakaway and isn’t afraid to go out on her own. She’s not keen on crowds, but she knows her time in the peloton won’t last forever.
She wants to be remembered for her selfless teamwork, and as a domestique on SD Worx her efforts are invaluable to the team with the most wins this season. She wants to be taken seriously, and even though she loves to have fun and laugh with her teammates, when it comes to race day, she can be fierce.
Someday, when she’s had a bit more experience, she will be ready to burn the peloton down. She’s incredibly talented and even if her efforts now are for her team leaders, it won’t be that way forever. You’ll see her again, on the top step.
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