Audrey Cordon-Ragot joins Spanish Conti team Zaaf Cycling

Audrey Cordon-Ragot

The new Spanish Continental team Zaaf Cycling announced its 2023 roster, including the French champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot. The former Trek rider was left without a team after the demise of the B&B Hotels project this off-season. She had agreed to leave Trek and join the team that was due to be based in her home Brittany region. With the team’s late demise before it even began, Cordon-Ragot needed to find a spot on a roster. It looks like that won’t be at Women’s WorldTour level but the talented French star will still get to ride many of the important races in 2023.

Zaaf Cycling spent last season at the Spanish national level, taking part in non-WWT Spanish races like the Ruta del Sol in 2022. The team’s name comes from the family name of Algerian cyclist Abdel-Kader Zaaf who took part in the Tour de France 4 times in the 1950s. Zaaf was also the lanterne rouge in the 1951 edition of the race. It’s the 1950 race that saw Zaaf become a fixture in the history books though. In that race, he had attacked with another rider and gained 30 minutes on the peloton.

On a hot day, Zaaf took a drink from a spectator and it didn’t react well with him. He had to lie down at the side of the road and fell asleep. He was awoken and told the peloton was coming, so he dashed back onto his bike, only to head the wrong way – in the direction of the peloton. He did well not to crash into them as they found each other. Despite this story, Zaaf was a good cyclist. In that same Tour de France, he had already finished in stage top-10s on 2 occasions.

The team has goals of reaching the Women’s WorldTour, however, it will be a tough ask to reach at the end of this season. Because the team scored 0 points in 2022, that means they are effectively something like 1,500 points behind the aspiring WWT rivals. It’s certainly possible with a decent line-up but it’s going to be tough as they would need to recreate BikeExchange-Jayco’s year last year to stand a strong chance. At the end of this year, the next 2 seasons will be key in assigning the next batch of WWT teams from 2026.

2023 rider signings

Aside from Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Zaaf Cycling has signed the African champion Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed. The Egyptian recently dominated the Tour of Burundi by winning all 6 stages and the GC. Another national champion joining is the Canadian Maggie Coles-Lyster. She won a stage at the 2022 Joe Martin Stage Race and is known for her track racing too. Danielle de Francesco joins after impressing in Australia, with Lucie Jounier and Mareille Meijering also impressing in Europe. Nikola Noskova rejoins the upper ranks of women’s cycling after a year spent outside the Continental level when SD Worx dropped her.

2023 Zaaf Cycling Line-up

  • Audrey Cordon-Ragot
  • Ebtissam Zayed Ahmed
  • Maggie Coles-Lyster
  • Eva Anguela
  • Michaela Drummond
  • Danielle de Francesco
  • Heidi Franz
  • Lucia Garcia
  • Lucie Jounier
  • Mareille Meijering
  • Nikola Noskova
  • Marta Romance
  • Debora Silvestri
  • Elizabeth Stannard
  • Emanuela Zanetti

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