Francesca Barale, despite her tender age of twenty, has been earning stripes in terms of experience and respect from both her teammates and the technical staff within DSM-Firmenich. The young cyclist from Domodossola has made another significant leap in her development, as evidenced by her contract renewal until 2025. She is currently soaking up the congenial climate of the Côte d’Azur, gathering kilometres with a couple of teammates, before heading off to Calpe in mid-December for a training camp with her team.
A Link Between Teams
Barale also plays a subtle part in bridging DSM-Firmenich with the BFT Burzoni in an agreement that has led her former junior team to become a development team for the Dutch outfit. In a recent training retreat in Austria, alongside both the male and female contingents of DSM, Barale was noted for her excellent integration into the team and her active role in fostering the team’s spirit.
A Year of Growth and Achievements
Reflecting on her performance, Barale expressed satisfaction with her second year among the elite, viewing it as a year of gaining valuable experience. Her role mostly involved supporting her teammates, which she feels has brought her closer to the level she and the team aspire to. Her upward trajectory in form was evident as she achieved a commendable fourth place at the Tre Valli Varesine. This result, which was her best to date, allowed her to enter the off-season with high morale.
The cyclist has thrived under DSM’s management, earning the team’s trust as a reliable support rider. During the Tre Valli, when the team leader, Juliette Labous, wasn’t feeling her best, Barale was encouraged to take her own chance in the race, which allowed her to showcase her capabilities. She identifies Labous as her mentor, and despite Labous being just 25, acknowledges the significant impact of their five-year age and experience gap within women’s cycling.
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Goals
Barale has remained competitive with the best in some races and has frequently assumed pivotal roles within DSM. However, she candidly acknowledged the need to improve her time trial skills to be competitive in smaller stage races. The team seeks to refine its strategy against dominant teams like SD Worx, believing they have the knowledge to overcome them as evidenced by victories from teammates like Charlotte Kool and Pfeiffer Georgi.
The camaraderie within the team is strong, as illustrated by Barale’s car journey with Rachele Barbieri, filled with conversations reflecting their collective ambition and unity. Barale is still deciphering her strengths, whether in classics or stage races, and is hopeful for opportunities to prove herself. She has ambitions to participate in the Tour and the World Championship in Zurich, aiming to be well-prepared to achieve results in her category.
Scouting and Development
Barale wasn’t directly involved in the discussions leading up to DSM-Firmenich’s partnership with BFT Burzoni, but she was pleased with the decision. She admired the efforts of the scouting network, led by Hans Timmerman, DSM’s head of scouting, in identifying and nurturing talent.
The cyclist supports initiatives that help young Italian riders gain international exposure and experience. She feels that her own move to DSM helped break a stigma and has no regrets about her decision, nor does her teammate, Eleonora Ciabocco. With the introduction of ProTeams from 2025, the dynamics of the sport may change, but Barale hints at the promise this holds for the new generation.