The 2022 women’s cycling season has begun but the Women’s WorldTour doesn’t kick into action until Strade Bianche on 5th March. With the continuing expansion of the Women’s WorldTour, there are more British riders at the top level than ever before. Jess Roberts is the only rider to leave a WWT team, she has joined Coop-Hitec, joining up with another Brit in Josie Nelson.
Team UAE ADQ
Sophie Wright had a solid first year at Ale BTC Ljubljana, with her best result coming at the British National Championships. The former Torelli rider has stayed with the team as it transitions to Team UAE ADQ in 2022. She still has the talent and potential to be one of the best British climbers of the next generation.
Uno-X Pro Cycling
After 6 years at Canyon SRAM, Hannah Barnes has left for the new Uno-X team in 2022. After finishing 5th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the start of 2021, there were only a couple of other top-10 finishes. Her role had transitioned to mainly being a road captain when she used to be more of a classics sprinter sort. She should get more chances on Uno-X.
Lowden had a career year in 2021, taking the women’s hour record on the track and a dominant win at Tour de Feminin. The latter was won with an impressive solo break of over 5 minutes. She’s moved from Drops-Le Col up into the Women’s WorldTour with Uno-X. Any short stage races with time trials will be there for the taking for Lowden this year.
It’s been a couple of years since Elinor Barker was on a major road team. She spent 2018 at Wiggle-High 5 and 2019 with Drops. She signed for Uno-X for two years, then announced her pregnancy. There’s a small chance we could see her near the end of 2022 but realistically it probably won’t be until 2023.
Barnes had a decent 2021 season, taking a stage win at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. That was her first win since 2019. She almost took another win at the Healthy Ageing Tour but just got pipped to the line by Jolien d’Hoore. Alice Barnes almost took her first Women’s WorldTour win, a surprising gap from her palmares, a couple of times. Second place at the Simac Ladies Tour and Vuelta a Burgos, plus a third place at the Ladies Tour of Norway. Here’s hoping she can go one further in 2022.
A little bit down the pecking order at SD Worx, Shackley still took her first UCI victory at the U23 British Nationals. Similar riders to many of the team leaders, she will probably continue to be a climbing domestique for the star riders. Her best non-national result was 11th at GP Eibar, where she helped Anna van der Breggen as the last rider available for SD Worx. There’s one less rider ahead of her now, maybe she will get chances in a contract year.
Henderson’s move to Jumbo-Visma definitely paid off. She worked for Marianne Vos in the major races but got plenty of opportunities throughout the year. She became British National TT champ and won GC + 2 stages at Kreizh Breizh Elites. There was a whole bag of top-10s in the 2021 season, the aim in 2022 will be to take that first Women’s WorldTour victory.
Another young British rider who did well in 2021 was Pfeiffer Georgi. The new British National champion was impressive in Lincoln but she was already a favourite after winning GP Fourmies in the lead-up. She’s got a good TT and a decent sprint at the end of tough days. That saw her finish in the top-10 in WWT races in Simac Ladies Tour and the Women’s Tour. If she keeps up this progression, she’ll net her first Women’s WorldTour win in 2022.
It was a tough 2021 for Lizzy Banks. She only got to do 2 races all season after coming off at Strade Bianche and having a tough concussion. It took her the whole season to recover and her Instagram tracked the progression she made off the bike. Moving from Ceratizit-WNT to EF Education-TIBCO-SVB feels like it will be a good fit and a chance to refresh things.
Young Brit doing well in 2021 might be starting to sound repetitive now. Smith wasn’t quite hitting the same heights at Henderson and Georgi but it was only her first half-season in the pro peloton. A top-20 in GC at the Ceratizit Challenge showed strong all-rounder skills and it was similar at the Women’s Tour. She’ll be paired with Banks in 2022 and there’s a good chance we see her keep getting better.
Her sister Zoe definitely had the better 2021 season, with Elynor still on the mend from the bad leg break from 2020. The single result of note was 2nd in the Lotto Belgium Tour Prologue, with the rest of the year supporting teammates. The hype that Zoe has come out juniors with is where Elynor was a couple of years ago. Getting back on track in a contract year will be important.
It wasn’t a prime year for Deignan but winning the first Paris Roubaix Femmes pretty much made it a good year by itself. She seemed to get her best results at the .Pro level rather than WWT level, including 4th at the Giro Donne. She will always be a useful foil with Elisa Longo Borghini on the team. However there were no Olympics heroics and despite the possible retirement rumours, she’s still continuing in 2022.
Notable Non-Women’s WorldTour British Riders
Jess Roberts has been struggling with injury and Team BikeExchange cut her loose at the end of the 2021 season. She’s always had great potential and could be a star of the short stage races as she can TT and sprint. Coop-Hitec has picked her up and the smaller team could be a great place to get her career back on track.
Joining Jess Roberts is Josie Nelson who will spend another season at Coop-Hitec. Like Abi Smith, she joined halfway through the 2021 season and took impressive results immediately. She was flitting around the top-10 and finally got one in the Banbury stage of the Women’s Tour.
There was so much hype for Parkinson after a strong 2019 season but it hasn’t transferred to Lotto Soudal Ladies yet. It’s now been two fairly quiet years after I hoped that 2021 would be better. With Kopecky leaving last year there should’ve been more chances for other riders. The general running down of the Lotto Soudal team means that Parkinson has a genuine stake to become a team leader this year.
One of the many riders on this list to have raced for Drops, she joined Bizkaia Durango in Spain for the last two years. She nearly won a race at the start of 2020 but the attacks didn’t really pay off in 2021. She was one of the dozen riders excluded from the Giro Donne after the infamous Anna van der Breggen time trial win. A move back to Le Col-Wahoo may give her greater opportunities again. In form, she’s a great attacking rider to watch.