Promising American talents Makayla MacPherson and Kaia Schmid will join Rally Cycling for 2022 and 2023. The pair, who both finished in the top five at the recent Into the Lion’s Den criterium, sign from States-based under-19 development squad LUX Cycling, and have been racing each other since they were 11 years old.
The duo is excited to be making the jump up to the elite ranks, not least because they’ll be able to get off their junior gears. Both newcomers spoke about the move as they begin their journey into the higher echelons of the sport.
Macpherson, the current junior national road champion, revels in the hard races and is looking forward to taking on the “really big learning curve” that she will face in 2022.
The 18-year-old from Corona, California has had a successful year as a junior. Alongside her nationals victory, she finished fifth in the World Championships in Flanders, won a stage of the Rás na mBan in Ireland and showcased her talents year-round at the American crit series.
“I’m beyond excited,” MacPherson said from Milligan University, Tennessee, where she is studying nursing. “I’m looking forward to learning how to work in a professional team and seeing how Rally Cycling can help with my development so that two, three years down the road I can reach my full potential.”
The college racer completed a late summer block of racing on European roads and took a victory at the first time of asking when she won the opening stage of the junior Watersley Ladies Challenge.
“The people over in Europe are fully into cycling, I love that about the atmosphere and the racing is next level, so I’m super excited to be a part of that,” MacPherson added.
Off the bike, MacPherson is just as good at escaping into a good book as she is flying up the road. She also enjoys exploring new places and kicking back on the beach – she’s a “California girl at heart” after all.
A developing multi-talent
Rally Cycling is also thrilled to welcome junior star Kaia Schmid to its ranks. The 18-year-old from Marblehead, Massachusetts is a punchy rider who considers herself a “climbing sprinter”, as showcased by the silver medal she won at the hilly junior World Championships.
An accomplished criterium and track racer, the multi-talented Schmid won three junior national track titles in 2021, the junior criterium champs and the junior world track title in the elimination race.
“I feel like I had a pretty successful junior career, so I’m feeling excited and confident that I’ll be able to make the jump,” Schmid said. “The race opportunities I will get with Rally Cycling are so important for my development and since it’s an American team, it’ll help with the transition to WorldTour as I’m doing it with people I already know really well.”
Schmid also made the journey over to Ireland to race Rás na mBan where she also came away with a stage victory.
“That was a confidence boost,” Schmid explained. “There aren’t many climbing races in America, so I got to see how I could climb, and I surprised myself. I was like ‘oh actually, you know, I can climb I think too’ so that was cool.”
When she’s not on two wheels, Schmid can be found sending it just as hard on a pair of skis. A talented freeskier, Schmid excelled on mogul runs while still in high school.
The next generation
Women’s team director Joanne Kiesanowski worked with Scmid at the junior track World Championships and is excited to help the duo with their development.
“Both Kaia and Makayla have already shown their strength against the rest of the world at the junior World Championships this year,” said Kiesanowski. “Rally Cycling is so happy for the opportunity not only to invest in the next generation of American cyclists but also to move into the elites with strong and accomplished athletes.”
“I have seen both of them show such maturity on and off the bike and I have a lot of confidence in them taking the step up to the elites. We look forward to working with them at their pace and monitor their performances and recovery to make sure they have the time to grow as athletes and individuals.
“As an American team, these two young athletes, Kaia and Makayla, have a safe and good place, with an elite-level opportunity, and amazing support from our team as we look to compete in Europe,” Kiesanowski added.
The team looks forward to welcoming MacPherson and Schmid to its line-up.
— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com