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US talent Kristen Faulkner steps up to the WorldTour with BikeExchange

The Alaskan rider steps up to WorldTour-level after two years as a pro and is the first official signing for Team BikeExchange for 2021.

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Kristen Faulkner’s going WorldTour.

After only turning professional last year, the promising Alaskan rider will join Team BikeExchange for 2022 after penning a two-year deal with the squad.

Formerly a rower and a venture capitalist, Faulkner turned to cycling later in life and only stepped into the pro ranks with Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank last year.

Also read: From venture capitalist to professional cyclist: The rise and rise of Kristen Faulkner

She competed in her first European race at the Tour de l’Ardèche in September 2020 and took her first pro win four days in and has continued to improve, claiming a memorable victory at the Ladies Tour of Norway this August.

“Team BikeExchange has a lot of resources that will benefit me as I look to take my cycling career to the next level, and I look forward to joining a larger team where I can grow as a rider and as a leader,” Faulkner said. “At this stage in my career, my goal is to improve as quickly as possible and to have fun.

“Team BikeExchange provides an environment where I can constantly learn, receive feedback, take risks, share opportunities, and race with experienced team leaders. Since I will be living in Europe away from my home in the U.S., I look forward to joining a community that has a positive, welcoming culture.”

Following her Ladies Tour of Norway stage win, Faulkner’s run of form continued through GP de Plouay, where she got a podium finish, and the Challenge by La Vuelta. She looked to be on song once again with fourth in the time trial, but a crash during the third stage put a dent in her run of results.

Also read: Kristen Faulkner files legal challenge to USA Cycling’s Olympic women’s road selection

After spending the earlier part of her career using flashcards to learn about other riders and race tactics, Faulkner told VeloNews back in August that Norway was one of the first she’d been able to ride on instinct alone. She would claim third overall in the race after putting in a strong ride on the race’s summit finish, which was won by Annemiek van Vleuten.

The changing face of Team BikeExchange

Faulkner is the first confirmed signing for Team BikeExchange for next year. With five of the team’s 13 riders already confirmed to leave — three to other teams and two to retirement — there’s plenty of space for change within the squad.

The team will hope that Faulkner can add a much-needed boost to their roster after a difficult 2021 season plagued by injuries. Meanwhile, she hopes the team’s track record of strong riders will help her push on.

“With new riders coming on board in 2022, the team is undergoing a lot of positive changes for next season. I’m looking forward to targeting some of the spring classics such as Flanders and Liège, as well as some of the summer stage races,” Faulkner said.

“I spoke to several people, on and off the team, before making my decision to join, and everyone emphasized the positive team culture. I perform best when I am having fun and surrounding myself with people who make me smile. For me, a positive team culture is the foundation for high performance.”

“Furthermore, many strong riders have come through Team BikeExchange, which says a lot about the team’s ability to develop talent. I have confidence in the directors and my teammates for next year. I am really excited to support each other and see what we accomplish together.”

The team’s general manager Brent Copeland is hopeful that Faulkner still has plenty of room for development after such a strong start to her career.

“With Kristen coming to join GreenEDGE Cycling [the operating name of the team], we believe we have found a very intelligent and talented rider that will fit very well into our team,” Copeland said. “She started to ride a bike quite late in her life, and her results give us lots of hope for her future as she has progressed very quickly.

“She is a strong rider and with her great determination, we believe she can be a very valuable addition to the squad. She will of course need some time to adapt to the team, but we are excited to see how she can develop over the coming years.”