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Pfeiffer Georgi on captaining Team DSM at 22, taking on the classics

Georgi is still one of the younger riders in the peloton but her ability to read a race has seen her take on the responsibility of road captain.

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Pfeiffer Georgi may only be 22 but the British rider’s ability to read a race has seen her promoted to road captain at Team DSM this year.

Being a “road captain” means taking the big decisions and ordering around her teammates in the midst of a race.

It was a big step up in responsibility for Georgi, who turned pro with DSM back in 2019, and a daunting prospect. However, she feels as though she’s growing into the role after taking the helm at several races.

“I was quite nervous when they started talking to me about it, because my personality is a bit more quiet and introverted. It always has been that way,” Georgi told VeloNews. “It’s not really in my nature to take the lead or step up, so it’s something that I’ve been working on. I think the team saw that I have quite good race knowledge, and have been trying to work with me to bring this out in more of a captain role.

“I still find it hard to kind of making like a final decision when everyone’s looking to you for the answer or something. But over this year, I’ve been having more races and gaining that trust from the girls in the team. It’s definitely still something that doesn’t come naturally to me.”

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There isn’t really a training course for road captains, and it is largely about gained knowledge and experience through racing. Georgi is very much learning on the road as she goes, which means that mistakes will be made.

While errors are always disappointing, Georgi is also trying to look at the positive aspect of them, too. In any case, not making a decision can often be worse than making the wrong decision.

“My DS always said, ‘there’s no wrong call. You’ve just got to make one and then we’ll talk about it after the race,’” she said. “I think understanding that it’s not that, if you make one bad decision, you’re never captain again. It’s just part of the role and you learn as you’re making mistakes as well.”

The pressure to lead will be more defined for Georgi next season with Team DSM seeing a glut of young riders coming in while some of their more experienced riders, such as Leah Kirchmann and Floortje Mackaij, leave the team.

At the start of next year, the average age of the team will be just 20, making them by far the youngest in the WorldTour. Going into her fifth year as a professional, despite her age, Georgi is now one of the most experienced racers on the roster.

“We’re a pretty young team. So it’s kind of nice that I’ve kind of learned from the older riders, and now even I’m still quite young myself and I can pass on the experience I have so far and take on the captain role with all the new riders in the team,” Georgi said.

“I still see myself as new but then I realized next year is my fifth year and the other girls on team are 18. I feel like it’s gone pretty quick, actually.”

Going for podiums

While Georgi will likely be taking on more responsibility as a team captain in 2023, she also has her own goals as a rider. With Lorena Wiebes heading off to SD Worx for 2023 and Mackaij also gone, there is more room for leadership roles during that part of the season and Georgi’s hoping she can put her name down for a few races.

“Definitely the classics will be a big focus for me,” she said. “With the different structure of the team and different riders, I think I should get more opportunities to be the protected rider. And I think over the next few years, I’d like to be more competitive in finals and racing for podiums and wins in the classics.”

Having increasingly dipped her toes into the classics as she’s gained experience as a rider, Georgi took on her biggest classics campaign to date in 2022 with a run at some of the biggest races on the spring calendar. She finished the early part of her season off with an impressive performance on the cobbles to take ninth at Paris-Roubaix.

“I did Flanders for the first year that for the first time this year. That was yeah, pretty crazy and pretty special. I’m definitely looking forward to doing that. And obviously, Roubaix if it’s dry,” Georgi said.

“I felt like I stepped up a bit [this year] and, within the team, I got a couple of opportunities to be more of like a final rider. One of my highlights in the classics was Roubaix. That was quite unexpected for me. Obviously, it wasn’t winning or podium or something, but I didn’t expect coming into that race to get in the top 10, so I was really happy with that.”

Without a rider like Wiebes — who was pretty much guaranteed a win on any sprint day she started — in the roster for 2023, the dynamics of Team DSM’s racing approach could change next year. Georgi has a fast finish and the team also has developing talent Charlotte Kool, but the team has an opportunity to mix it up with how they race.

“I think it will definitely change the way we race a bit,” Georgi said. “I guess we can race a bit more openly. Charlotte is really fast and so when she’s still there and at the end of a race. In the lead out we’re pretty good as a team, and I think we can still deliver that to Charlotte.

“Then, in races that maybe aren’t so set on a sprint, we can race more aggressively and use our numbers. We’ve got a lot of girls that can race really well. So, in the classics, I think we’ll potentially be a bit more open than it has been this year.”