Which cyclist is more valuable: the Tour de France victor or the world champion? For decades, fans and media alike have argued over questions of this nature. Unlike mainstream American sports, pro cycling does not award a Most Valuable Player prize to its greatest champions. Instead, that title has been determined by debates on the group ride, or at the pub.
In our annual Season Preview issue of VeloNews magazine, we were determined to rank the top 50 riders, male and female, based on their perceived value. We created a methodology that took into account race results, marketability, social following, teamwork, and other qualities. We then reached out to a group of experts to help us vote. We kept them anonymous to prevent personal relationships from swaying their votes. Our group of mystery voters included agents, team directors, Olympic champions, and even a grand tour winner or two. Their votes helped inform our final list, which was chosen by the VeloNews editorial team.
Did we get it right? It is up for debate — and that’s the point. Here are the pro women we ranked 16th-20th. Stay tuned for the rest of the rankings, and be sure to check out riders 21-25.
20. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance)
While Bronzini’s two world championship titles date back to 2010 and 2011, the Italian continues to win. She took the final stage at the Amgen Tour of California in 2017 ahead of Coryn Rivera. She took two stage victories at the Giro Rosa in 2016. Still, her best years are behind her, though the world champion’s stripes will adorn her kit for as long as she continues to race.
19. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb)
Brand is Sunweb’s road captain. Her two Dutch national titles on the road, overall wins at the Energiewacht Tour and the Ladies Tour of Norway, and impressive 2017 victories at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a stage at the Giro Rosa speak to her diversity of skills. Then there are her cyclocross chops: In both 2016 and 2017, she won the silver medal at the European Championships.
18. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla)
The South African climber has scored impressive results in smaller UCI races, but she’s still searching for her breakout performance on the Women’s WorldTour. Some thought it would come during the 2017 Ardennes races, where Moolman-Pasio was one of the strongest climbers. On each occasion, however, she was thwarted by Boels-Dolmans. Still, a top finish is bound to happen soon.
17. Amalie Diderikson (Boels-Dolmans)
Dideriksen’s surprise sprint victory at the 2016 world championships thrust her into the limelight as one of the brightest rising stars in the sport. At just 21, she still has the lion’s share of her career ahead of her. Another Boels star, Dideriksen needs to garner her own results on the star-studded team. Last year she won the Ronde van Drenthe WorldTour event.
16. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
Majerus doesn’t win many big races, save for the Luxembourg national road, time trial, and cyclocross championships, which she has won a combined 28 times. Still, the 30-year-old is the primary domestique at Boels-Dolmans, and her pace setting and aptitude in races is often what sets up the winning move. She’s been with the squad since 2014.