In July, star sprinter Lorena Wiebes made history when she won the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift opening stage and becoming the first woman in 33 years to wear an official Tour de France yellow jersey.
The 24-year-old continued to make news that day for bringing a mysterious baby with her up on the podium, and then for rumours that she might be leaving her trusty Team DSM leadout in favor of a big salary offer from SD Worx, despite being under contract with the black-and-blue team through 2023.
With a proven leadout train and by routinely pushing more than 1200 watts in the finale of a road race, the Dutchwoman has become the most feared sprinter in the peloton. This year alone, she's already netted 17 sprint victories, including two in the eight-day Tour de France Femmes.
It's no surprise then that other teams are keen to have this star finisher on their squad, and it's now come to light that a special clause in her DSM contract, allowed Wiebes to entertain offers should they be more lucrative than her current contract.
This is not the first time Wiebes has left a team before her contract has expired. After her breakout season in 2019, Parkhotel Valkenburg secured her services until the end of 2021, but after a legal wrangle, they released the sprint star to DSM halfway through 2020.
Team DSM's press officer Emily Brammeier confirmed the rumours and contract loophole to Cycling Weekly at the time, but because the UCI rules dictate that a change of teams between two calendar years can not be announced until August 1, SD Worx and Wiebes herself had to remain silent on the matter.
"Of course we can’t confirm the new team, but what we can say is that Lorena is a good rider with a phenomenal sprint. We would have loved to continue working with her, but she got an offer she didn't want to pass up and we respect that," Brammeier said.
Today, however, SD Worx released a statement officially announcing the signing of the sprinter, who is set to stay with the team through the end of 2025 and will be part of the team's goal to remain the number one ranked team.
"In the flat sprints our current team lacks speed. We want to compete for victory in all areas," said Team manager Erwin Janssen of Team SD Worx.
"Lorena is a pure sprint star. When it comes to pure speed, she is by far the best," added Team SD Worx sports manager Danny Stam.
"The large number of victories this season says something about her qualities," continues Stam. "Although we mainly focus on the tougher races and as a team like to make the race, it is also nice when you have a big chance in the sprint. With Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes we have three world-class riders for the coming years who each excel in their own field."
Belgian Kopecky, the team's current sprinter has been a real asset for the Dutch team, netting high-profile wins at events like Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche.
In 2023, Stam plans on playing his two sprint cards based on their differenced. Kopecky is able to survive the toughest races and still produce a sprint whereas no one in the women's peloton has been able to beat Wiebes in a flat, all-out sprint.
"With Wiebes we go for the real bunch sprints, while Kopecky is played off in the somewhat tougher races. I also see in Wiebes the talent to develop further. The strength of our team has always been that we have several top riders at the start. In addition, there are more and more races on the calendar in women's cycling. That also means that we will be riding a double programme more often and will have to invest in that," said Stam.
Wiebes shared that she would have liked to have stayed with her DSM team, a squad that has in many ways been developed around her, but that the offer from SD Worx carries too many 'opportunities' to ignore.
"For years I have dreamed of being part of the world's best UCI women's team with several world-class riders who I can pull myself up by," Wiebes stated. "I look back with pride on an instructive and very successful time with Team DSM. I will try to make it a successful remaining term of this season."
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