Each season, a whole host of riders are out of contract and potentially change teams. We’re currently at the point where some riders have confirmed their moves or renewals but many are still unknown. That means some big-name riders are currently ‘available’ that could improve any team in the peloton. Some of them we know are definitely leaving their existing teams but with as yet unknown destinations. Plenty we have no news at all so far! This article tries to pull together a list of the best riders who are unconfirmed for the 2023 season into an imaginary dream team roster.
There are so many other riders I’d also include but ultimately you have to stop the list somewhere!
As an aside, if you add up all of the current 2022 UCI points of these riders, you end up with the highest-ranked team in women’s cycling. A full 748 points scored more than SD Worx!
Ellen van Dijk
This one seems almost surprising that nothing confirmational has been heard yet. It’s a borderline done deal that Van Dijk will ride for Trek Segafredo again but the rumour is that she wants a 2-year deal and Trek is only offering a 1-year deal. There’s potentially another attempt at the hour record in the offing but that shouldn’t hinder contract talks. Whilst she’s available, I’d absolutely have her on my fictional team. Even at 35, Van Dijk has won a pair of stage races, the national TT championships and heading into this weekend, is likely to hold all of the national, European and World TT titles at the same time. A proper Swiss army knife for any team.
This is potentially a season of great change for Team DSM with Lorena Wiebes already confirmed to be leaving and potentially Lippert and Mackaij too. This team needs a snappy puncheur-type rider who can contest the Ardennes and potentially the odd GC like the Tour of Scandinavia too. The German is probably a tier below Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig now but is still absolutely a rider who can improve a roster like this.
Confirmed as leaving Team DSM but the destination hasn’t been revealed yet, it feels like we’re seeing Mackaij transform herself this year. Previously a strong classics attacker, it feels like we’re seeing her develop into a GC contender going forward. She may not quite be up there with AVV and Vollering but top-10s at Itzulia Women and Tour de Suisse show where her goals lie in the future. Similar to Van Dijk, there is a whole host of ways to effectively use the Dutch rider, in a much better fashion than simply a cog in the DSM lead-out train.
Another rider who can excel in many different roles is the Canadian Alison Jackson. Sort of a sprinter but not just a sprinter, we’ve seen her finish in the top 10 overall of the Baloise Ladies Tour and win the points jersey at the Tour of Scandinavia. We could use her either as a sprinter, final lead-out or attacking piece in our team. She’s perfect for picking up key points for the 2024 WWT promotion/relegation battle in a whole host of races.
Another Canadian that has impressed me this year is Olivia Baril. Her peak cam in May with a win at GP de Eibar and 2nd behind Demi Vollering on a stage at Itzulia Women. Based in the Basque Country, she did best on her adopted home roads. She’s somewhere between a puncheur and a climber at this point, so potentially similar to Lippert on this roster. Baril should be part of the exodus leaving Valcar-Travel & Service this year but her destination isn’t known yet.
I fully expect Krista Doebel-Hickok to renew with EF-TIBCO-SVB but at the moment, nothing has been confirmed. She flirts the line between being a pure climber and a bit more all-round. At Rally Cycling, she would attack and get in breaks but I think she now has the confidence to get results for herself in European racing. She’s sometimes able to be a big contender, such as comprehensively winning the Tour Féminin Pyrénées and finishing 4th at Vuelta a Burgos. That’s also mixed in with disappearing slightly in longer tours with 15th at the Giro and 34th at the Tour de France Femmes possibly slightly disappointing.
After 5 years on Canyon SRAM, it may for time for the Brit to move on this year. She’s taken 3 wins for her team over the last 5 years (not including Nat Champs + Worlds TTT) and is a kinda sprinter that’s more likely to finish in the top-10 than win. Whilst last season was a return to form, this year has felt quieter for the Brit. In some ways, she’s a similar sprinter to Jackson in that a tough race with a small group is the best situation for her. Previously on the Drops Cycling team, a potential homecoming to Le Col-Wahoo team could be on the cards.
A star on the track this year, Zanardi also took the final stage win at Tour Féminin Pyrénées recently. She’s another sort of sprinter in this line-up but maybe more in the Arlenis Sierra mould. Able to get over hills more than most with a strong kick, it feels like she could become a strong classics rider or maybe a one-day race like say Plouay could be an option in the future. She’s currently on BePink, so could and should move up to a bigger team this off-season.
One of the few stars of the Roland Cogeas team this season, Dronova has impressed with her versatility. Making the top-10 at races like Gent-Wevelgem, Navarra Classics, stages of the Tour de France Femmes and Vuelta a Burgos before 4th in GC at the Tour of Scandinavia. Like many on this list, she’s sort of a sprinter but having a rider who can finish ahead of good climbers like Lippert, Brown and Rooijakkers at the Tour de France Femmes can only be a solid addition. Whether that would be for her own result or assisting others who will do better in GC.
After making a big impression last season, Bredewold has improved more this year and should be off to a Women’s WorldTour team for 2023. An attacking rider with a big engine, she’s good enough at time trials to get good GC positions in smaller stage races, she was 6th overall at the Bretagne Ladies Tour this year for instance. She was consistent enough to finish 21st at the Tour de France Femmes and there may be some more hilly race resistance to come from her that bodes well for the classics season. Jumbo-Visma feels like a natural home for Bredewold but nothing is confirmed yet.
Brode is confirmed to be living FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope with a likely destination of the Trek Segafredo team for 2023. This year has been her best on the French team and a return to the strong results of 2019 whilst on Team TIBCO. Strong during the classics, which allowed her to finish 9th at the Tour of Flanders before a win at GP Chambéry. More top-10s on Mont Ventoux and Durango Durango, before a great finish of 4th on GC at the Tour de Suisse. She’s been strong in a supporting and attacking role this year but the decision to not include her in the Tour de France Femmes team felt like a snub, especially with a new contract elsewhere already confirmed.
Another Antipodean element, Harvey doesn’t seem to have quite recaptured her Bigla/Paule Ka hype from 2020 on Canyon SRAM. She was top-20 ranked rider that year but isn’t even in the top-100 this season. It feels like it hasn’t quite worked on the German team and a reboot somewhere new may help things. Given her nationality, BikeExchange-Jayco will always feel like a natural fit. With the team losing Spratt to Trek, she could potentially slot into that role quite nicely. At her best, she’s a great puncheur and should dovetail nicely with Lippert in this line-up.
The purest climber on this list, Koppenburg has had nothing but bad luck recently. Serious injury has followed serious injury but in between those, there are still those highlights that we’re used to from the German. 2nd on Mont Ventoux this year shows what she can do if the calendar embraces higher climbs and it was a similar story when she was 5th in the Vuelta a Burgos last year. The question will always be about the time lost in time trials, so this year’s Tour de France Femmes would’ve been perfect without the injury sustained at the Giro Donne.
Canyon SRAM will be desperate to keep the 2020 Zwift Academy winner on their team after she has broken through this year. She finished 10th in GC at the Giro Donne as the standout new star at that race. She missed the Tour de France Femmes but came back with a consistent week at the Tour of Scandinavia to finish 5th. She’s probably a couple of tiers behind the very best in the peloton at the moment but at 20-years-old, there is plenty of time to develop further. She’s another where you imagine BikeExchange-Jayco would love to sign her but she’s a must-keep for Canyon SRAM.
Confirmed as leaving Canyon SRAM this year is German rider Lisa Klein. Similar to Barnes, it’s been 5 years on the team and this season hasn’t been as successful as her 2021 season. Potentially a similar rider to Ellen van Dijk, she loves the short stage races with a time trial and hard racing like the Bloeizone Fryslan Tour. Races like Elsy Jacobs and the Baloise Ladies Tour should be her bread and butter for her own ambitions and then she’s a great rider to support a GC tilt at a grand tour too. As a German, it feels like a WWT-bound Ceratizit-WNT will be a likely destination.
Probably the best pure sprinter available this off-season is Chloe Hosking. Lorena Wiebes’ transfer means she’s off the table but technically she was never a truly available rider in the ‘contract expiry’ sense. It’s been a tough year for Chloe with crashes derailing her opportunities, thinking back to Nokere Koerse and Brugge-De Panne. Teammate Elisa Balsamo tends to get the #1 role, suppose naturally as the World Champion after all. It’s not all doom and gloom, Hosking has taken 2nd places at Bloeizone Fryslan and recently at the Tour of Scandinavia too. The latter she was keen to celebrate almost as a win because of the boost it gave her. If she does leave Trek, Liv Racing Xstra may be the best fit or a return to Human Powered Health now they’re in the WWT.