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 11th-15th. Stay tuned for the rest of the rankings, and be sure to check out riders 11-15, riders 16-20, and riders 21-25.
10. Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott)
With a big engine and a fast finish, d’Hoore is the best women’s rider in the cycling heartland that is Belgium. She boasts a broad array of talents that also sees her contend in track races. Mitchelton-Scott should up the win count considerably in 2018 with D’Hoore on board.
9. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)
A relatively recent addition to the top echelon of the peloton, Niewiadoma enjoyed a breakthrough 2017. Her biggest win was the overall title at the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, which has quickly become one of the most popular events in women’s cycling. And her transfer to the larger Canyon-SRAM squad for 2018 confirmed her value.
8. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5)
Longo-Borghini is still only 26, but she has been a fixture in the Women’s WorldTour for years. She’s particularly dangerous on home roads in Italy, where she currently reigns as the national road and time trial champion. The clear top dog in a country crazy for cycling, Longo-Borghini is a valuable asset for Wiggle-High5.
7. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans)
Blaak spent years as a reliable top-10 contender in the spring classics and started her Boels-Dolmans career as a strong second option behind some of the team’s bigger names. Since 2016, however, she has established herself as a one-day threat. Now, as world champ, she’s earned a season in the rainbow jersey, marking it the third straight year a Boels rider has won a world road title.
6. Coryn Rivera (Sunweb)
Rivera rose to prominence as one of the fastest finishers on the U.S. domestic circuit and emerged as one of the top riders on the WorldTour in 2017. She became the first American, male or female, to win Flanders. Paired with her victories at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the RideLondon Classique, she can legitimately claim to be America’s best racer at the moment.