The surprise departure of Lorena Wiebes has created an opportunity for Charlotte Kool to step up as the lead sprinter at Team DSM in 2023.
Replacing the fastest sprinter in the women’s peloton will be a challenge, but Kool has proven herself to be one of the most exciting up-and-coming sprinters in the Women’s WorldTour. At just 23 years old, and given the time and support to continue her development, she has a bright future in the sport.
Kool started her career with the development team NXTG Racing and excelled during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, securing her first big contract with Team DSM in 2022. In her first season with Team DSM, she was invaluable to the team’s sprint lineup and often switched between Roles as Wiebes’ primary lead-out and the out-right sprint leader in many of the biggest races.
Her top performances included victories in GP Eco-Struct and a stage at the Simac Ladies Tour, where she received a winning move from Wiebes, who was wearing the overall race leader’s jersey.
Wiebes later stated that her decision to make the surprise switch to lead-out role for Kool at the Simac Ladies Tour was to say ‘thank you’ for all the support she had given her during the 2022 season.
“We had a very nice season together, and I think it is a nice step for Charlotte to sprint next year,” Wiebes said.
Wiebes joined Team DSM, as Team Sunweb, partway through the 2020 season. This year alone, she has secured 23 victories, and Kool has been a big part of that success. It was revealed during the Tour de France Femmes in July that Wiebes would break her contract with Team DSM and join SD Worx beginning in 2023 through 2025.
As of next year, Wiebes and Kool will face each other in the sprints as competitors. Although the team have also lost Leah Kirchmann (retirement) and Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij (both to Movistar), Kool will still have a powerful team to support her ambitions in the sprints with Franziska Koch, Pfeiffer Georgi and Megan Jastrab.
Kool has proven that, even without Wiebes, she can contest some of the biggest sprints. In 2022, she was given the lead sprinter’s role for Team DSM at the Giro d’Italia Donne, where she finished on the podium in three stages and only lost to the likes of Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo- vision).
Team DSM sees seven incoming riders all between the ages of 18 and 24 – Becky Storrie (CAMS-Basso), Daniek Hengeveld (GT Krush Tunap Pro Cycling), Eglantine Rayer, Maeve Plouffe, Anna van der Meiden, Nienke Vinke and Eleonora Ciabocco. Among the influx of youth are several riders who are competing in their first season in the elite ranks.
They will be joining returning riders Kool, Georgi, jastrab, Koch, Elise Uijen, Esmée Peperkamp, Juliette Labous, Léa Curinier and Francesca Barale.
It will be interesting to see what Kool can do with the full support of Team DSM in the sprints, particularly in major one-day races and stages of the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes.
Team DSM will undoubtedly divide the team to also support Juliette Labous. She has come into her own as a general classification rider, and since joining the team under Sunweb in 2017, she has developed with the program for six seasons and has extended her contract through 2024.
The French rider had one of the best seasons of her career in 2022 with queen stage 7 victory atop Passo del Maniva at the Giro d’Italia Donne and winning the overall title at the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas.
On home soil, she secured fourth place in the overall classification at the rebirth of the women’s Tour de France. The marquee event will likely be another major objective for Labor in 2023, with a second opportunity to try and finish on the overall podium.
She is also eyeing the Paris Olympic Games the following year, so watch for her to take another step up during the next two seasons.
Other storylines to follow in 2023
- Team DSM has signed some of the best up-and-coming talents straight out of the junior ranks. From the podium at the junior women’s road race in last year’s World Championships, silver medalist Eglantine Rayer and bronze medalist Nienke Vinke add firepower.
- Eleonora Ciabocco, who was eighth at Worlds in the junior women’s road race, is taking the step up to the elite ranks with Team DSM, along with Anna van der Meiden, who was 22nd.