Stefan Bissegger: Previous generations couldn’t race for themselves - now when you’re good you can get results

The Swiss time trial specialist explains why he thinks younger riders are emerging as stars

Stefan Bissegger on stage 20 of the Tour de France 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

 Stefan Bissegger is one of the new wave of young riders not afraid to step up against the biggest names in the sport.

The EF Education-Nippo rider, a contender in the stage 20 time trial at the Tour de France, has shared his thoughts on why younger riders are reaching the top of the sport.

In previous generations, even the most talented young pros had to ride in support of their veteran team leaders, Bissegger said, while today's teams will take a chance on unproven riders if they believe in their abilities. 

The 22-year-old Swiss pro told Cycling Weekly: “The philosophy of everything has changed because we start earlier training like pros, we start to live like pros. Also, the racing is different because the level of the under 23s is way higher than it used to be. 

“The step is not so big anymore and also the teams let you race on your own. It's not like 10/20 years ago. when you were a new pro you always had to ride for the other guys but now when they see you're good they let you do whatever you can do and for getting results.” 

He added: “Previous generations didn't have the chance to race on their own. They always had to race for their leaders, there was no chance that you as neo-pro could race for your own results. Even if you were the strongest you had to race for the old leader.” 

Bissegger, racing his first full season at WorldTour level after joining EF part way through 2020, already has three professional wins to his name, including the Paris-Nice time trial earlier this year. 

Data, according to Bissegger, is another factor in riders coming of age in their early 20s (and in some cases still in their teens). 

Power meter data and heart-rate tracking devices like WHOOP, a sponsor of EF Education-Nippo that offers insight into sleep, recovery and physical effort, all contribute to the increased professionalism at under-23 ranks. 

Bissegger said: “With the WHOOP and things like that you learn how your body reacts and you learn it when you're younger.

“Also is the power meter, this kind of stuff. You start to train in a professional way younger than you used to train.” 

He is now chasing stage victory in his maiden Grand Tour, the Tour de France. 

His first chance, the stage five time trial, victory was out of reach because he was one of the only riders who had to take on his run during heavy rain, eventually finishing 18th.

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But on stage 20 the conditions are better suited to a strong performance for Bissegger, who is the provisional leader at the time of writing. 

Stefan Bissegger's WHOOP data from stage 14

Stefan Bissegger's WHOOP data from stage 14 

(Image credit: WHOOP )
Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.