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From Elisa Balsamo to Coryn Labecki: Five major signings for the 2022 season

There have been some big-name signings during the 2021 transfer window and VeloNews delves deeper into some of the most interesting.

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Cycling waits for no man, or woman.

With the 2021 road season already becoming a distant memory, the focus begins to turn to next season. Vacation time will soon be over, and teams will be welcoming their new riders into the fold before long.

Also read: Everything you need to know about rider moves in the women’s road peloton

Nothing stands still in cycling and the peloton is forever changing in its complexion. With many established stars riding into the sunset this winter, there is lots of space for movement within the bunch ahead of 2022.

Some big names will be swapping squads for next year and here are five that will be the most interesting to watch as the season progresses.

Marlen Reusser to SD Worx

Marlen Reusser was crowned European champion in 2021
Marlen Reusser was crowned European champion in 2021 (Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

New contract term: two years
Current team: Alé BTC Ljubljana

Marlen Reusser was one of the breakthrough stars during the 2021 season. She had already established herself as a growing force within the peloton with her second-place finish behind Anna van der Breggen in the time trial at the worlds in Imola last season making her one to watch.

Also read: Marlen Reusser wants to celebrate 30th birthday with TT rainbow jersey

The Swiss time trial machine lived up to her billing this year, beating even her own expectations in some events. She ended the season with six wins, including the European time trial title, the Chrono des Nations and a hugely impressive opening day win at Challenge by La Vuelta.

Reusser’s rise in cycling has been swift with 2019 her first pro season but she has dealt well with her newfound prominence. After just one season at the squad, she had already outgrown the Alé BTC Ljubljana set-up and her move to SD Worx will be an opportunity to delve further into her capabilities. With van der Breggen set to be her DS at the squad, the world is her oyster.

Elisa Balsamo to Trek-Segafredo

Elisa Balsamo beat Marianne Vos to win world title in Leuven
Elisa Balsamo beat Marianne Vos to win world title in Leuven (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

New contract term: three years
Current team: Valcar Travel & Service

Elisa Balsamo is an old hand now at pro cycling with five seasons at the elite level already under her belt, but she’s still just 23 and has — potentially — a very long career still ahead of her. After winning the junior world title back in 2016, Balsamo has been steadily building herself into a strong sprinter and a solid classics rider with plenty of promise.

Also read: Elisa Balsamo: Winning world championships was ‘revenge’ after Olympics crashes

With her rainbow-winning ride in the elite road race at the Flanders worlds last month, she delivered on that promise. Balsamo’s development on the road has been alongside her sterling track career, where she took silver in the team pursuit behind Germany at the recent worlds in Roubaix.

Trek-Segafredo had snapped Balsamo up for three seasons before she won in Flanders and will be grinning from ear to ear at the decision to take her on. The 23-year-old will slot well into a strong classics squad that contains the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini and Ellen van Dijk, and she will also have prolific sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg for guidance as a DS. With a strong team around her, it will be intriguing to see how Balsamo steps into her role as road world champion.

Sarah Gigante to Movistar

Sarah Gigante was named to the Australian Olympic squad for Tokyo
Sarah Gigante was named to the Australian Olympic squad for Tokyo (Photo: Michael Steele/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

New contract term: three years
Current team: Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank

Sarah Gigante’s move to Movistar may have felt like a bit of a surprise when it was first announced but it makes a lot of sense. The Spanish squad has been looking to young talent to develop, alongside its marquee leader Annemiek van Vleuten, and Gigante is — on paper at least — the perfect match.

Also read: Sarah Gigante: Tokyo selection ‘a dream come true’ for Olympics obsessed Australian

After winning the elite Australian road race title with an incredible solo effort in 2019 at just 18, Gigante stepped up to the pro ranks last year with Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank — a team that is well known for developing raw talents. She has since gone on to win the last two Australian national time trial championships.

Despite a serious crash this year, Gigante has shown some promise among the top pros and still has plenty to give. As a strong climber with a big TT engine in her armory, Gigante has similar characteristics to her new teammate van Vleuten and riding alongside the Dutchwoman could see her make some big steps in 2022.

Coryn Labecki (née Rivera) to Jumbo-Visma

Coryn Labecki outsprinted Lizzie Deignan to win a stage of the Giro d'Italia Donne
Coryn Labecki outsprinted Lizzie Deignan to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia Donne (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

New contract term: three years
Current team: Team DSM

They say that a change can be as good as a rest and that’s what the 29-year-old Labecki will be hoping for. It seems like just yesterday that Labecki was making her first forays into the European racing world with the Dutch squad but 2021 was her fifth at the team.

Also read: Team Jumbo-Visma Women signs Coryn Labecki for two years

Labecki’s best season to date came in her first year in the European peloton with big wins at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the Tour of Flanders, and a team time trial world title. In 2018, she scored a U.S. national road title and the Women’s Tour GC. Her win rate has slowed in recent years, though she did win a stage of the Giro d’Italia Donne in July and notch up a frustrating five runner-up places across the rest of the season.

Moving to Jumbo-Visma for 2022 will give Labecki a great mentor to work with Marianne Vos. With Lorena Wiebes staking her claim as DSM’s big sprinter, it will also give her more opportunities for herself. The 2021 season was a very difficult one for Labecki, for several reasons, and she now has a chance to start afresh.

Joss Lowden to Uno-X

Joss Lowden came close to retiring but chose to continue with her new contract
Joss Lowden came close to retiring but chose to continue with her new contract (Photo: George Wood/Getty Images)

New contract term: two years
Current team: Drops- Le Col p/b Tempur

Like Marlen Reusser, Joss Lowden was another latecomer to top-level racing after she turned pro at the tender age of 30. She had been pondering with the idea of retiring so that she could plan for the future, including having a family, but the contract with the fledgling Uno-X squad came and she decided to push on.

This season has been Lowden’s best by far with the jewel in her crown the beating of the long-standing world hour record at the end of September. On the road, she had also notched up a GC win at the Tour de Feminin and took top 10s in the worlds time trial, Women’s Tour GC, and Brabantse Pijl.

Also read: Joss Lowden rides 48.405km in new world hour record

Throughout her success this season, Lowden has had to manage a part-time career to help fund her racing dreams. The move to Uno-X will mean she can stop working and focussing fully on her cycling, and most importantly, her resting. She will hope the extra time will allow her to step up another level in her racing.

With some pros racing until their 40s, Lowden still has time in her career and the support of a WorldTour squad means she doesn’t have to retire to start a family either.