SD Worx Team Talk: How can the dominant force in women's cycling get any better?

Looking back on an imperious 2023 season and predicting what's next for Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky

Clock09:50, Saturday 4th November 2023
SD Worx dominated the WorldTour calendar in 2023

© Sprint Cycling Agency

SD Worx dominated the WorldTour calendar in 2023

When it comes to Women’s WorldTour teams, SD Worx are a squad that need no introduction. Top-ranked team in seven of the last eight seasons, winners of almost every big Classic and the Tour de France Femmes this year, and home to Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky, two of the world’s best riders, SD Worx are the super team of the women’s peloton.

In 2023, the team somehow improved upon their already dominant status. They played the numbers game to win countless one-day races and stages - with various riders thanks to their strength in depth - plus took the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift title, and finished 1-2 on more occasions than you can count. Despite the level in the women’s peloton elevating year-on-year, SD Worx still remain a cut above, carrying favourite status into every race they start.

Under the guidance of former world champion and now DS, Anna van der Breggen, the mighty team has used their strength and tactical ability to out-do the likes of Lidl-Trek, Canyon-SRAM and Jumbo-Visma all season, adding sprinter Lorena Wiebes in 2023 to dominate yet another discipline.

With a big 2023 campaign under their belt, attention will soon turn to 2024, where the Dutch team will no doubt be scheming how they can do even better, and tick off the few achievements they haven’t scored yet.

GCN’s 2023 Review

With 61 wins in 2024, it’s hard to pick out which were the most important. Demi Vollering’s Tour de France Femmes victory stands out, especially with Lotte Kopecky in second. SD Worx’s domination of the Classics will also be remembered, though, from Vollering and Kopecky’s finish line battle at Strade Bianche, to the Belgian’s huge home win at the Tour of Flanders, and Vollering’s Ardennes clean sweep. It wasn’t just the two big names who won, though, with Marlen Reusser winning Gent-Wevelgem, and Lorena Wiebes victorious in Ronde van Drenthe and Scheldeprijs.

After their dominant spring - they won 13 races between Opening Weekend and Liège-Bastogne-Liège - the Spanish block of stage racing brought more success, mainly for Vollering and Reusser. Though only a 2.Pro race, we also can’t forget the Thüringen Ladies Tour, which was SD Worx domination to a tee: they won all six stages, each with a different member of the team.

Then, of course, the summer brought the Tour de France Femmes, where the team impressed on several fronts, naturally with Vollering’s yellow jersey victory but also through Kopecky’s incredible Tourmalet performance which earned her second overall and the green jersey after winning the opening stage in exciting fashion. Despite the obvious success - the team won the race and four stages - there were a few days where they let the win go by refusing to work in the chase.

One of the impressive things to note about SD Worx’s 2023 campaign is that all but three riders - Anna Shackley, Femke Markus and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, on maternity leave - took wins, including new signings Mischa Bredewold and Barbara Guarischi, with the latter also proving a key cog in Wiebes’ lead-out. This shows how much depth there is in the team, rather than the success only falling at the feet of the big names.

Looking at their list of wins for 2023, it’s hard to imagine there were any disappointments for SD Worx this year, but there are a couple of wins they missed out on. In one-day racing, Paris-Roubaix continues to evade their grasp, which remains a sticking point. Perhaps the biggest close-call, however, is the Vuelta Femenina, where Demi Vollering took two stage wins but missed out on the overall to Annemiek van Vleuten. Despite their success at the Tour de France Femmes, you could also say this came at the expense of the Giro d’Italia, where they didn’t even place a rider on the final podium. The Tour is of course the big one, but SD Worx could have hoped for a more consistent presence across the Grand Tour podiums.

GCN's rating: 9.9/10

The best team in the world who won almost all the important races, often taking runner-up spot too.

Where SD Worx’s wins will come in 2024

Repeating the success of 2023 will certainly be an ask for SD Worx in 2024, but they’ll undoubtedly be up for it. With almost no changes to their roster - there are no departures, and only the return of Chantal van den Broek-Blaak from maternity leave and the arrival of new signing Femke Gerritse so far - it’s likely their winning formula will be similar in 2024.

Wiebes, Vollering, Kopecky and Reusser will be their main cards in the Classics, with European champion Bredewold also arguably earning her a spot in the spring leadership rotation. Where it would be interesting to see SD Worx do something different is in the Grand Tours. It’s expected that Demi Vollering will be aiming at another Tour de France Femmes victory, but with a bigger gap between the Giro and the Tour this year, could she perhaps go for both? If not, it would be good to see the team send a real GC threat squad to that race: Niamh Fisher-Black definitely has the ability to go for a top result, but she needs the support around her.

As for Lotte Kopecky, we might expect to see a slightly less prolific season for the Belgian as she will be building towards riding on the track at the Paris Olympics. It seems likely that she may therefore miss all or part of the Tour de France, so SD Worx will have to look elsewhere if they want to repeat the volume of wins in that race, particularly on the punchy days.

The one place SD Worx will be really hoping to find a win in 2024 is in the Paris-Roubaix velodrome. The race is only three years old, but is quickly growing into a big gap in the team’s palmarès. The question is how will they win it, and with who? The race is so unpredictable and prone to misfortune that it’s hard for a team, even SD Worx, to control it, and they seem to have been on the wrong side of things so far. Lotte Kopecky seems the obvious choice to win here, but powerhouse Marlen Reusser could also pull off a signature solo move, or even Chantal van den Broek-Blaak depending on when she’s back to her best. It’s not a Vollering race, but Lorena Wiebes, with her growing all-round strength, could also be an option.

SD Worx’s next breakout rider

The flipside of being a team as successful and dominant as SD Worx is that their roster is built around big hitters - proven riders who can win, or riders who can work hard for their teammates to win. As such, their line-up is wall-to-wall stars, with only a few spots left over for younger riders still making their name, and even then, SD Worx tend to recruit riders who have already made waves. Think of Mischa Bredewold this year - the 23-year-old had already won a WorldTour race and worn a jersey at the Tour de France Femmes even before joining SD Worx.

Of course, it will be hard to find leadership chances in the stacked SD Worx squad, but opportunities tend to arise in smaller races for the all-powerful team, so expect to see Schreiber get a big result one day next year.

What did you think of SD Worx's season? Is their domination an impressive feat or too much? Get involved in the discussion below.

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