Dutch talents Marit Raaijmakers and Nina Buijsman have joined Rally Cycling’s women’s team from Parkhotel Valkenburg. The pair are both accomplished all-rounders with a good turn of speed, adding depth and climbing quality to a transformative 2022 roster.
Both newcomers spoke about signing for Rally Cycling and their hopes for the coming year. With the team applying for a Women’s WorldTour license, their European racing experience will be invaluable.
A new adventure
Raaijmakers, who will join the team for two years, is a promising stage racer who in previous seasons dedicated herself to ex-teammates Lorena Wiebes and Demi Vollering. Now she is “ready for something new” on Rally Cycling, a team she was attracted to because of both the welcoming and professional feel.
In 2021, Raaijmakers won the opening stage and overall, of the Watersley Women’s Challenge as well as the youth classification at the Trophée de Grimpeuses.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the team and learning their strengths so we can deliver results together,” Raaijmakers said.
The Dutch talent describes herself as a strong, tactically-minded rider who has a knack for good positioning, a crossover skill she has developed from track cycling. This skillset means Raaijmakers is particularly well-suited to the Ardennes Classics.
“I think track is really good for road training because even when you’re not fully recovered you can go again,” says Raaijmakers. “That’s something I bring to the road – and also the ability to make tactical decisions.”
The 21-year-old from Hippolytushoef lives on a farm and has a passion for the great outdoors. In 2020, Raaijmakers and her then teammate Demi Vollering, embarked on a biking odyssey when they packed up their bags, tent and camping equipment and rode high into the Swiss mountains.
The big step
Rally Cycling is also excited to welcome Raaijmakers’ compatriot Nina Buijsman. The 23-year-old climber from Bovenkarspel also has had a fruitful season, and signs on a one-year contract.
“I’m really looking forward to this new adventure,” said Buijsman. “Racing with new girls on an American team is something I’m very excited about.”
Like Raaijmakers, Buijsman is strong when the road turns skywards as well as being a punchy finisher. Somewhat of a breakaway artist, in 2021 Buijsman won the mountains classification at the Ladies Tour of Norway and had a strong string of results in the fall at Giro dell’Emilia (11th), La Classique Morbihan (5th) and Grand Prix du Morbihan (8th).
“I enjoy breakaways and jumping into the action at the races,” Buijsman added. “To race with my heart and go fully into it and not wait the whole race for something to happen is how I like to ride.”
Buijsman has raced on Parkhotel Valkenburg since turning professional in 2017, and off the bike she has been working hard on perfecting her banana bread recipe.
The team is sure that her experiences racing in Europe will be a huge asset, as will the banana bread.
Now racing in a more international set-up, Buijsman is excited for the opportunities 2022 will bring.
“I always like to travel and to see other cultures, so I’m interested in that. It will also be nice to help the younger riders with racing in Europe,” Buijsman said.
The hills are alive
“Both Marit and Nina have shown that they are promising stage racers this year,” said women’s team director Joanne Kiesanowski. “Marit showed a lot of progression with her GC victory at Watersley and Nina has shown great consistency this fall block, adding to her fantastic jersey victory in Norway.”
“They both have the ability to race full-out in the WorldTour,” Kiesanowski added. “We’re excited to work with them and help them develop into top stage racers.”
The team looks forward to welcoming Raaijmakers and Buijsman to the line-up. Stay tuned for next week when we will be announcing our final riders to the women’s roster for 2022.