Rally Cycling bolsters Classics squad with Mieke Kröger and Evy Kuijpers – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling has reunited ex-teammates Mieke Kröger and Evy Kuijpers by signing the duo to its women’s team for 2022. They had previously raced with each other on Futurumshop.nl Zannata in 2014 and will strengthen the team’s Classics roster. 

The newcomers spoke about the opportunities they hope to get next season and how their experiences racing in Europe will benefit Rally Cycling as the team applies for a Women’s WorldTour license.

Golden rainbows 

Olympic gold medalist Kröger, from Bielefield in Germany, is a time-trial specialist who excels over Classics-style terrain and at short stage races. She joins from Team Coop – Hitec Products on a one-year contract. 

Kröger describes herself as a “proper diesel,” who enjoys it when the going gets tough.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the 28-year-old said. “Racing under American management is something I’ve never experienced so I’m really excited.”

Kröger had an incredibly successful 2021, winning team pursuit gold at Tokyo 2020 and then a rainbow jersey as part of the German Mixed Relay TTT squad in Flanders. She has also found success at shorter stage races, as shown by her overall victory at the Lotto Belgium Tour in 2019 and second place in GC at this year’s Baloise Ladies Tour.

“I’m looking forward to Roubaix again as I enjoy the Classics when it’s bad weather,” Kröger explains. “My motor is really running during the last part of the season though, so I’m also looking forward to some smaller stage races where I perform well because of my time-trialling.”

Having raced professionally since 2013, the German arrives with a wealth of experience and as well as performing on the bike, hopes to be a good mentor to the younger riders on the team. 

Lily Williams competed in the same event as Kröger at Tokyo 2020, winning a bronze medal. The American will renew her contract and join her one-time Olympic rival on the team next year. 

The science of racing 

Rally Cycling also welcomes Classics rider Kuijpers from Liv Racing for the 2022 season. The change is the start of “a new adventure” for the 26-year-old from the Netherlands who is looking forward to having the freedom to work for both herself and the team. 

“I’m really looking forward to the Classics and the first edition of Tour de France Femmes,” Kuijpers said. “Rally Cycling is a team with a lot of opportunities to work with young riders and I hope I can share my WorldTour racing experience.”

Kuijpers, who graduated with a degree in sports science last year, got her start in cyclocross before turning professional in 2014. Handling, power, and the ability to race on different surfaces are all skills crucial for racing the classics that Kuijpers developed by racing off-road.

“I’m a rider that really likes bad circumstances, like the cold and wind,” said Kaijpers. “I’m more of a Classics rider but I also like stage races. I always have a good sprint from a small group and can do a lead-out too,” she added.

Not many riders would describe the Classics as feeling “comfortable,” which shows why Kuijpers will be a valuable asset come spring. Another rider who is comfortable in muddy conditions is of course Katie Clouse. Like Williams, she too will join the new signings on the team next season. 

Leading from the front

“Both Evy and Mieke bring real depth and experience to the team for our early objectives,” said women’s team director Andrew Bajadali. “They are both strong rouleur type riders with proven abilities riding against the clock and in Classic-type races where wind and the elements play a significant factor.” 

“We’re also excited by the prospect of adding both of them to drive our leadout efforts when a sprint situation is necessary,” added Bajadali. “Their depth of experience, ability to communicate and physical strength will be invaluable, and will have a huge impact for the entire team, especially our younger riders.” 

The team is delighted to be welcoming Kröger and Kuijpers and renewing with Clouse and Williams for 2022. Look out for more rider announcements over the coming weeks. 

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

Kristian Aasvold joins Rally Cycling – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling has signed the talented Norwegian Kristian Aasvold for the 2022 season. The 26-year-old from Snåsa who joins from Team Coop is Rally Cycling’s first Scandinavian rider and the third non-North American to race for the men’s team.

Aasvold describes himself as a puncheur who is not afraid of the hardest races, favouring days with a succession of small climbs that end in a reduced bunch sprint. The Norwegian has had a year at ProTeam level before but makes the step back up the ranks following a successful 2021. 

“It’s really exciting,” Aasvold said about joining the team. “Rally Cycling is really professional so it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to meeting the guys and starting to work together to try and deliver as good a season as possible.”

2021 was Aasvold’s most successful year to date and he excelled in both the Arctic Race of Norway and the Tour of Norway in August, two short stage races where he finished fifth and sixth overall respectively. 

“You can always train to become better, but you need those hard races as well. Hopefully, I can take some big steps next year and get some results for the team,” Aasvold said.

The team’s long-time performance director Jonas Carney knows how to put a roster together.

“Kristian had a really strong back-end to the season and we were impressed by his strength,” said Carney. “We feel he has a lot of potential and we were looking for a punchy rider like him to strengthen the squad.”

Aasvold has a wealth of experience from his time on Scandinavian teams and previously raced on the Riwal Securitas Cycling Team with Arvid de Kleijn in 2020. The Dutch sprinter spoke to his returning teammate prior to his big move to a North American outfit.

“He [de Kleijn] said a lot of positive things and of course it matters that people you know well say that it’s a good team,” Aasvold explained. “I also spoke with Jonas about it, and again got the sense it’s a good environment – which is important for me.”

The team looks forward to having Aasvold bolster its ranks for the 2022 season. Keep an eye out for more rider announcements over the coming weeks. 

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

Rally Cycling signs young talents Henrietta Christie and Barbara Malcotti – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling has signed young climbing talents Henrietta Christie and Barbara Malcotti to its women’s team for 2022 and 2023. The new additions are the first names to be announced for next season’s roster.

Both newcomers spoke about signing for Rally Cycling and their aspirations for the coming years. With the team applying for a Women’s WorldTour license, they will have plenty of opportunities. 

Pair of Kiwis 

Christie, from Christchurch, New Zealand, is the current under-23 national time trial champion and joins from the Bepink squad.

“I’m really excited about getting to meet everyone next year,” Christie said. “Rally Cycling can help me progress with my career, and I can’t wait to build some strong foundations within the team.”

The 19-year-old recently competed in both the women’s elite World Championship road race in Flanders, and the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes, arguably the two most gruelling weekends of racing this season. The jump up did not faze the talented young climber though.

“I love pushing myself to the limit,” she said. “My aspirations are to get stronger every day and aim to get on a UCI Women’s WorldTour podium next year.”

Christie in the world-famous Vélodrome André-Pétrieux at the end of Paris-Roubaix Femmes

Christie describes herself as a hardworking, driven and team-focused rider who enjoys competing in stage races, as showcased by her young rider classification victory at the Tour Cycliste Féminin in September.

“It’s going to be so cool to be part of a team that is so close-knit and is like a family.”

Returning for 2022 will be a fellow New Zealander whom Christie looks up to. Olivia Ray, the current national criterium champion, will renew her position on the team for next season and the duo will bring a unique Kiwi vibe to proceedings. 

Italian jersey hunter

Rally Cycling is also excited to welcome young climber Barbara Malcotti, who will be the team’s first-ever Italian rider. 

The 22-year-old from Tione di Trento (think mountains) has raced with the Italian team Valcar – Travel & Service since 2019 and is looking forward to joining an international program. 

“I’m excited to be racing with girls from around the world,” Malcotti said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to improve my skills and be a good rider for the team.”

Like Christie, Malcotti is a climber who thrives in the mountains. Her fourth place in the young rider standings at the 2021 Giro d’Italia Donne, and strong top-10 finishes in the recent Italian fall classics, the Giro dell’Emilia (8th) and Tre Valli Varesine (4th), showcase her strengths going uphill. 

“I look up to Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini because I like their method of racing. They stay in the bunch, get in the breakaway, and they attack, and I think a rider must do all of these things.”

Malcotti also hopes to figure in the Ardennes Classics and aspires to follow in the wheel tracks of her compatriot and current teammate, new world champion Elisa Balsamo. 

A platform for progression 

“We saw the promise and progression that they have shown already at a young age,” said women’s team director Joanne Kiesanowski. “Henrietta showed a lot of progression already after only a few months in Europe and Barbara has kept improving from her junior years and is ready to move to a World Tour team after racing at a very high level in the elites.”

“They both have shown strength in stage racing and have the abilities to be GC contenders in the future,” Kiesanowski added. “We’re excited to work with them and help them develop over the next two seasons.” 

The team looks forward to welcoming Christie and Malcotti to the line-up for the next two years and is thrilled to have Ray returning. We’re not done yet, stay tuned for more rider announcements over the coming weeks.

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

Rally Cycling signs high-flying Gage Hecht – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling has signed American Gage Hecht as the first new rider for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The 23-year-old from Parker, Colorado signs from the US-based Aevolo team. 

The step up to the ProTeam ranks marks the realization of a dream for the multi-talented rider who describes himself as a lover of Classics-style races who isn’t afraid to do his turn for the good of the team.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to race in Europe,” said Hecht. “The team is a really cool platform to make that jump and I’ve heard amazing things about Jonas [Carney] and the rest of the staff about how they treat the riders. I’m really excited to be working with them.” 

Hecht has been racing on the road with Aevolo since 2017 and has displayed his talents in the biggest stateside races. In 2018, at just 20 years of age, he beat WorldTour riders in the opening stage of the Colorado Classic and in 2021 took victory in the time trial at the Joe Martin Stage Race and finished second overall. 

“We’ve been talking for a few years now, and we feel the timing is right as he is ready to commit fully to the road,” said performance director Jonas Carney“Gage is one of the best young riders coming out of North America right now and we feel he has a ton of potential.”

The Coloradan is the current US national cyclocross champion, a discipline he has entertained many fans by competing in. Like so many athletes in recent years who have made the successful transition from mud to asphalt, Hecht believes the transferable skills have left him in good stead.  

“Cyclocross gives you a different type of strength,” he says. “It’s not so much a sprinter’s power, but this ability to just do repeated hard efforts out of the corners without burying yourself. That skill is going to help me a lot as I transition to a full European calendar with the team.”

Away from cycling, Hecht is an aviation enthusiast who holds a private pilot’s license and is currently completing a degree in aviation aerospace science. He also plays the ukulele, but not at the same time.

The team looks forward to welcoming Hecht to its ranks for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Stay tuned as more roster announcements are expected over the coming weeks.

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com