Niewiadoma hugs her teammates at the Tour in 2023

Wheel Talk Newsletter: Canyon-SRAM for life (or at least for two more years)

Niewiadoma is staying at Canyon-SRAM in 2025, with an interesting new addition.

Hello and thank you for reading this week’s Wheel Talk Newsletter! LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour delivered some fantastic pre-Giro action; with three stage wins for Ceratizit-WNT and only one SD Worx-Protime victory, the race was nothing like last year. Plus, a fan favourite announced her team colours for next year and rumours swirl about who will join her.

The Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour was a fantastic pre-Giro d’Italia showdown.

The race was off to a weird start when the peloton was barred from chasing a two-rider breakaway with 12.7 km to go due to a train crossing. The breakaway containing Ruth Edwards (Human Powered Health) and Margot Vanpachtenbeke (VolkerWessels) rode in over five minutes ahead of the peloton, however, the time was adjusted by the race commissaires to 2:34 after the fact. In theory, the commissaires could have not intervened with the time and labelled the level crossing a “race incident” but they did. Regardless, the time gap was still massive after the first stage.

The win was a big one for both Vanpachtenbeke and her Continental-level team. Prior to the win, the 25-year-old’s best result was seventh in Brabantse Pijl in 2023. Last week’s win was her first professional victory.

“The two riders ahead could keep going, and all the other groups came back together,” Tiffany Cromwell said of the finale. “We still tried to practice the sprint in the final. But when nobody knew what was happening and there were no time gaps, you could feel that in the bunch. It motivates us to make a hard race on stage two tomorrow.”

Stages 2 and 3 came down to bunch sprints with Martina Fidanza (Ceratizit-WNT) winning both stages ahead of Barbara Guarischi of SD Worx-Protime. The second stage looked like it would go to a breakaway of six containing Linda Riedmann – who won the chase sprint for third in the first stage – plus Mischa Bredewold (SD Worx-Protime), Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Shirin van Anrooij (Lidl-Trek) but the peloton led by Edwards’ Human Powered Health team rode the group down with 2 km to go.

Despite great positioning by Guarischi, she couldn’t come around Fidanza who got a fantastic lead-out from her team.

There were a few attacks on the third day, but it was more of a “traditional break goes, peloton chases, break gets caught, peloton sets up for a sprint, race ends in sprint” kind of day.

In the sprint, Fidanza’s team pulled together yet another textbook lead-out for the stage 2 winner. In the final 200 meters, SD Worx-Protime started the action but yet again Guarischi couldn’t outsprint Fidanza.

The fourth stage was a big day for big names in the peloton, with attacks from La Flèche Wallonne winner Niewiadoma and Tour Down Under winner Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal). A lot of action at the front fractured the peloton, with Edwards trying to put pressure on the race leader Vanpachtenbeke. Crosswinds played into Edwards’ hands until the race took a turn and the yellow jersey was able to regain contact.

The finish came down to a group of 17 led by Lidl-Trek and it was their rider Lucinda Brand who took the win for her American team ahead of Karlijn Swinkels of UAE Team ADQ and Bredewold. Despite her best efforts, Edwards was not able to take the yellow jersey off Vanpachtenbeke, but her day would come.

SD Worx-Protime finally took their first win of the race in stage 5, a 31.5 km long individual time trial. Bredewold won over Lidl-Trek’s Brodie Chapman, who finished 11 seconds behind the European road champion. Edwards had a fantastic day, finishing fourth on the stage, 24 seconds behind Bredewold, but almost four minutes ahead of her stage 1 breakaway companion Vanpachtenbeke. The result was enough to launch the American into the race lead with a healthy 2:06 buffer ahead of Bredewold before the final stage.

Edwards was able to hold onto her race lead on the final stage, despite efforts from Bredewold and her team. The European champion had a near-impossible task to try to claim the jersey from the American. She would have needed to find just over two minutes.

Chapman was also active during the stage. The Australian only needed 17 seconds to jump Christina Schweinberger and move onto the GC podium. She finished safely within the lead group and moved into third overall.

Sandra Alonso took advantage of the attacks to take a flyer of her own, which resulted in another Ceratizit-WNT victory with Maggie Coles-Lyster of Roland sprinting to second two seconds later.

A few key riders from Thüringen will now make their way to the Giro including Edwards, who wore the pink jersey back in both 2018 and 2021.

A big shoutout to Thüringen, a race with WorldTour ambitions that provided six days of fantastic racing (minus the train incident) and easy-to-access live coverage for all their stages.

Racing continues…

At the Giro d’Italia Women!

Here we go, kids! The second ‘Grand Tour’ of the season is upon us!

I’ve written a full stage-by-stage breakdown AND a list of top contenders for the general classification, stages, and riders you should know in general. Both pieces will be out on Escape Collective later this week. Stay tuned!

Wheel Talk Podcast

With the Giro coming up we managed to get Tour Down Under winner (and friend of the podcast) Sarah Gigante to jump on the podcast this week to preview the race. A numbers fan, Gigante was the perfect person to call up to break down everything we have to look forward to next week. And since she’s sitting this one out, she had no problem telling us exactly what she expects from the favourites.

Make sure you catch this week’s episode. Not every day we get to preview a race with a real-life pro.

If you’re missing the pods, make sure you subscribe to the Wheel Talk Podcast feed everywhere podcasts are found. We are no longer on the EC universal feed (unless you’re a member). In order to give each of Escape‘s podcasts more freedom, we’ve broken them up into their own feeds. Great news because I’ve got an interview with Kim Cadzow coming up later this week as well!

Let’s Discuss

Kasia Niewiadoma is staying with Canyon-SRAM through 2026 …

After some theories about Niewiadoma packing her bags for SD Worx-Protime the Polish rider confirmed via social media that she wasn’t going anywhere. “I decided to stay with CANYON//SRAM Racing because that decision only made me feel deep happiness,” Niewiadoma wrote. “Of course, I considered other options, but it never felt entirely right, and I could not remain at peace with myself.”

Kasia Niewiadoma looks forward during a team presentation
Niewiadoma with her teammates at sign-on before La Flèche Wallonne 2023.

Niewiadoma first joined the German team in 2018 and immediately it was clear the move was good for her. In the years prior she had been racing for big teams like Rabo Liv and WM3, where she had ridden alongside or in support of Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.

When she moved to Canyon-SRAM the team was still in development. It formed in 2016 out of the ashes of HTC-High Road with a mix of young and experienced riders, but not many big names. Niewiadoma was one of the bigger name riders to join the team, and with it came a lot of pressure but Niewiadoma took it in stride.

Early into her time with Canyon-SRAM Niewiadoma won Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She went on to win a stage of the Ladies Tour of Norway and three stages plus the overall Tour Feminin l’Ardeche. The following year she won the Amstel Gold Race and a stage of the Tour of Britain (formerly the Women’s Tour), but 2020 marked the beginning of a quiet couple of years for Niewiadoma.

In 2022 she finished third overall at the inaugural Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, but she walked away from the season without a win. Again in 2023 she was third in France and took home the Mountains Classification, but it wasn’t until October she was finally able to raise her arms in victory. Niewiadoma’s Gravel World Championships victory was a turning point for Niewiadoma. She has come into the 2024 season on a tear. At La Flèche Wallonne she was finally able to win a WorldTour race, her first road victory since 2019.

Kasia smiles at the camera while wearing the Tour de France polka dot jersey
In the Mountains jersey at the Tour de France Femmes, 2023.

Through it all Canyon-SRAM stood by her, and when it came to signing a new contract, Niewiadoma took that commitment into consideration.

“I feel enormous support coming from the team of CANYON//SRAM when things go well and when they don’t,” she said. “I can fully be myself; I feel accepted, understood and motivated to embrace my position as one of the team leaders and as a rider who can share my knowledge with the youngsters.

“I’ve already spent quite some years on this team and am part of a project that wants to reach the top position. We have learnt so much about each other in the last couple of years, and I want to continue being part of the change that will lead us to multiple victories in the biggest races on our calendar! I believe in the strength of the riders and the hard work of all the staff members that allow us to make progress!”

Niewiadoma has been the centre of a clear shift within Canyon-SRAM. From the formation of their Generation development team, their discovery of youngsters like Antonia Niedermeier and Ricarda Bauernfeind and the adaptation of new tactics with new DS Magnus Bäckstedt, Niewiadoma has remained at the core of the team. Her place has allowed her to focus on the races she loves most, spend more time at home which has been beneficial to her mental game, and race with a panache other teams probably would have tried to change by now.

Kasia rides solo ahead of the race
On the attack during the queen stage of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes.

“We dream big together. We want to bring a yellow jersey home, win Strade Bianche, and the Tour of Flanders. I want to wear a rainbow jersey, not only on the gravel. I believe with CANYON//SRAM Racing, it’s all possible!!!!”

As the team continues to find their place in the peloton, Niewiadoma will remain their staple. And next year will see some interesting changes for the team. Rumour has it Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be joining Niewiadoma from FDJ-Suez. With another strong leader, the duo will either be unbelievable together or cause some rifts in the close-knit team. Canyon-SRAM has opted to sign young up-and-coming talents rather than big names in the past, so the addition of Uttrup is a new direction for the team.

With so many riders swapping jerseys next year, there is a sense of stability in knowing that Niewiadoma will remain in Canyon-SRAM colours.

A picture worth a couple of words

Throwback to when Ruth Edwards wore the pink leader’s jersey of the Giro in 2021 after Trek-Segafredo won the opening stage team time trial. It was the second time Edwards wore the pink jersey, the first being 2018 after she won the 5th stage.

Ruth smiles on the start line of the Giro
Ruth Edwards pictured during stage 2 of the Giro Donne.

The Giro has been won by either an American or a Dutchwoman since 2010 when Mara Abbott won ahead of Judith Arndt. Based on her performance in Thüringen, Edwards is leading the charge to keep the stat going. No pressure.

Taylor Swift

I will never recover from last Friday night.

Taylor Swift was incredible. Three and a half hours of performing live; it was something I had to see to believe. Her dancers, her band, everything was dialed and the crowd was the best I’ve ever been a part of. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, and I was worried about the floor tickets, but everyone at the concert was so respectful of space and each other. No wonder they say a Taylor Swift concert is the safest place on Earth.

Until next time!

Thank you so much for reading this week’s Wheel Talk Newsletter. We have a ton of racing coming and daily Wheel Talk podcast episodes througout the Giro that will feature audio diaries from top teams, you won’t want to miss it!

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