Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Road

The class of 2020: Where will the Équipe Paule Ka riders be next year?

All but two of the riders from the now-shuttered Équipe Paule Ka team have new homes for 2021, with many coming out winners from a tragic situation.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Beta MTB, Peloton, Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, and more
  • Download your personal race photos from FinisherPix* for one race (up to a $100 value).
  • Get up to $30 off your next race and $30 off race fees every year you are a member through AthleteReg*.
  • Expert gear guides and reviews for cycling equipment, performance apparel and tech
  • Discounted race entries to local sportives and centuries
  • Outside Watch Shows, Films, and documentaries
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 10 Weeks to Your Best 70.3 and the 60 Day Metabolic Reset
Join O+
VeloNews.com

Digital
Intro Offer
$2.99 / month*

  • Access to all member-exclusive content and gear reviews on VeloNews.com
  • Ad-free access to VeloNews.com
Join VeloNews

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

The rapid rise and demise of Équipe Paule Ka was one of the most dramatic and disastrous storylines of the 2020 women’s racing season.

Almost as soon as the French fashion house had stepped in to save Bigla-Katusha this summer, the coronavirus pandemic battered the brand’s bottom line and it failed to meet its sponsor commitments to the team, forcing the squad to close shop.

Eight weeks on, what has become of the riders that were on the books of Équipe Paule Ka?

Clara Koppenburg became the latest of Paule Ka’s class of 2020 to confirm a new contract Wednesday, signing with Rally Cycling. Koppenburg’s move means that all but two of the shuttered team’s roster have a plan for 2021, and many of them have landed deals that will mark a major step up.

Former Équipe Paule Ka rider Leah Thomas recently confirmed she had landed a role as superdomestique for Annemiek van Vleuten at Movistar. Lizzy Banks is set to take on a central role at Ceratizit-WNT. Niamh Fisher-Black’s breakout 2020 was rewarded by a slot at SD Worx, with the team hoping to develop the 20-year-old into a climbing star in the mould of another of their new signings, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. Youngsters Nikola Nosková and Emma Cecilie Norsgaard are both set to step up to WorldTour teams. 

Of course, it’s not all good news; Swiss champ Elise Chabbey and young Italian Maria Vittoria Sperotto are still uncertain of their futures. Otago Daily Times reports that budding Kiwi Mikayla Harvey has a new team for 2021, though details have not been confirmed.

Although a question mark remains over Chabbey and Sperotto, the speedy signing of the remaining members of the squad points to the health of the economy of women’s cycling, an ironic contrast to the exit of Bigla, Katusha and Paule Ka from the sport.

Team Jumbo-Visma will become a new player in the women’s peloton in 2021. Movistar is adding extra heft – and its considerable resources – to its women’s team next year, and human resources services provider SD Worx has been splashing the cash in bolstering the Boels Dolmans lineup ahead of the new season.

So perhaps there is a shade of good news among the scraps of the Équipe Paule Ka shutdown.

“We’re all aware of the difficult situation that led to this transfer, but sometimes out of a difficult situation can arise a fantastic opportunity and this is what has happened here,” Banks said of her transfer.

Banks is one of many that salvaged a dream ending from a nightmare situation. Here’s hoping Chabbey and Sperotto can do similar to give the tale a final flourish.

Where the riders from Équipe Paule Ka will be next year:

  • Lizzy Banks: Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
  • Elise Chabbey: TBC
  • Niamh Fisher-Black: SD Worx
  • Mikayla Harvey: New team to be confirmed
  • Clara Koppenburg: Rally Cycling
  • Emma Cecilie Norsgaard: Team Movistar
  • Nikola Nosková: SD Worx
  • Marlen Reusser: Alé BTC Ljubljana 
  • Maria Vittoria Sperotto: TBC
  • Kathrin Stirnemann: Retired at end of season
  • Leah Thomas: Team Movistar
  • Sophie Wright: Alé BTC Ljubljana