10 Women Who Prove Sagan Isn’t the Only Pro Cyclist with Personality

These female athletes prove that there's personality aplenty in pro cycling...

We read recently that retired Italian cyclist Claudio Chiappucci told reporters at Cycling Weekly that Sagan was the only rider in the pro peloton with character.

The three time Tour de France podium racer told them: “If you look at somebody interesting today it’s Sagan. Sagan is a good cyclist but on the other hand he’s got character, he’s got personality. All the others are just machines, paperwork, numbers.”

Of course, everyone is welcome to an opinion, and we’ve got to admit that Sagan does hold a special place in our hearts. However, we wonder if Chiappucci considered the female members of the pro peloton before making that statement.

In women’s cycling, media attention is harder to come by, so athletes have to dig a little deeper – share more if their personalities to make headlines and please sponsors. If this should be the case is clearly questionable, but as the matter stands it is the way the current sporting world works. As manager of successful women’s team Rochelle Gilmore told us recently: “It doesn’t matter if you win… you have to open your personal life and give yourself in the lead up for that for it to have significance.”

Perhaps the reason behind the incredible personalities in women’s cycling is not only that a remarkable character is necessary to succeed, but because these women have fought so hard to get media attention in the first place that they’re more willing to share.

Regardless, we thought we’d highlight some of our favourite personalities in women’s cycling. Not everyone will be on here, we could only pick ten – so if you’re a pro, no feeling left out if you’re not on the list (sorry!)

Katie Archibald

As well as being a track legend – coming first in the Team Pursuit, Individual Pursuit and Scratch Race at the recent European Track Champs – the Scot is the only rider we know to have sported pink, green and blue hair. Though possible the green was a result of the blue fading? We’re not sure but it’s awesome.

It’s not all about looks and hair colour – Archibald is a smart cookie and she keeps an indisputably witty blog at which is currently called ‘Katie Archibald Learns to Live’. Let’s not forget she is indeed only 21 (oh gosh, we suddenly feel incredibly old).

Our favourite post on there at the moment ‘Top tips for tricking yourself into believing you’re sane!’ finishes with our favourite tip yet – “Act overtly crazy as a double bluff.” Nice!

Helen Wyman

Helen Wyman has dominated the British cyclocross scene for almost a decade – she was National Champion every year from 2006 to 2015, except in 2013.

Of course, we’re not just focusing on performance here – and she’s done incredible things for women’s racing. She sits on the UCI Cyclocross commission and was influential in the introduction of better wages for women and a new junior class for girls. 

Wyman also races on the team that her husband Stefan manages – Matrix Pro Cycling. It was her diary of life as a domestic on the team at the Women’s Tour, published via Cycling News, which really sealed our quiet love affair.

Wyman’s writing exudes dry British humour, and shows both a dedication to her team mates, as well as an ability to have a laugh and poke fun at he own expense:

“As I have already told you in previous blogs I am the team worker and today they (my teammies) really decided to use me. Around 60km Lucy asked if I had any water, which knowing the feed was not far aware I duly gave up a bottle. I then proceeded to ride up to Laura where she instantly stated ‘oh you’ve got an energy left can I have that?’ Which she kindly swapped with her half drunk back washed water so I didn’t have to go entirely without. As I was making my way back through the peloton I spotted Elinor who then enquired if I had any spare food. Well there goes my spare waffle and gel. Turns out I am actually a one women confectionary machine!! Oh and I’m also now dehydrated and hungry.”

Of course there are serious moments, and she was sure to be thankful to everyone involved in the event – writing out a long list of Thank-Yous after the final race which showed a real gratitude to everyone involved in “creating the opportunity for us to showcase what an incredible bunch of athletes we have at the top of our sport“.

Katy Curd

The downhill world has some major personalities – and we’ll return for two more later – but it’s got to be said that Katy Curd totally rocks.

Having left the Downhill scene in 2006, she dominated in 4X for some years, and then returned to Downhill.  Outside of cycling, she puts a huge amount of time and effort into promoting women’s cycling and teaching women to be rad on a bike themselves.

Coaching at Pedalabikeaway, and in Spain with Pure Mountains, she’s constantly looking for more ways to share her skills with ‘normal’ women – and as ‘normal’ women, that makes us love her to pieces.

She’s recently jumped on to the ‘video’ bandwagon – but in true Katy style, she’s done it a bit differently. Curd’s video ‘Raw’ features no slow-mo ‘taking the helmet off’ shots, no hair shaking, and actually no music – she told us she wanted to capture the sounds of a bike as it shreds, keeping it real and – well – raw.


Giorgia Bronzini

Last time I met Giorgia Bronzini, Wiggle thought if would be a fun idea to dress all the journalists in Wiggle-Honda kit. Bronzini came up to me as we walked away and started nattering away to me in Italian – having somehow mistaken me for teamie Elisa Longo-Borghini – when I turned round and said ‘huh?’ I think she laughed hysterically for about 10 minutes. I did point out at the time that it was funny, but maybe not THAT funny…

Where I’m going with this is that to meet Bronzini is to meet an infectious smile, a wicked sense of humour and a very passionate individual.

Two time UCI Road Race World Champion, the Italian track and road rider is of course fiercely competitive – and absolutely ripped – but she’s also the life and soul of any party and the kind of rider who will have a beer when she feels it’s appropriate. 

Not only that, she’s always willing to share advice, and being an ‘elder’ at Wiggle Honda, a source of information and support for her team mates as well as inspiration for so many young riders…

Manon Carpenter

Carpenter is just 22 and has already been UCI Downhill World Champion – cool, huh?!

This year she had some tough luck – crashing in round two of the UCI World Cup and being DQ-ed in round three. However, she showed incredible strength, staying positive and posting on Instagram: “Doh. Crazy how a whole weekend’s racing goes out the window with one small mistake! Blown offline on the last jump and ended up wrong side of the tapes, knew it was a DQ straight away. Couple of weeks break before Rd 4, hoping for better luck next time!!”

Carpenter is also one of the lead ambassadors at Strongher – the movement devoted to promoting and growing women’s cycling, and she’s involved in coaching events passing on advice for women and girls all over Wales. 

Marianne Vos

She doesn’t really need an introduction – does she? For a long time, Vos has been the rider to beat – with a seemingly endless list of achievement on the road, track, and in the fields of cyclocross.

Vos has been out with injury for a while, but we were excited to hear she’s now returning to training.

Outside of being amazing on a bike, Vos is also heavily involved in promoting women’s cycling – being the headline name behind Stongher and it’s predecessor Take The Stage.

We always feel a little leap of glee when Vos ‘favourites’ (or re-tweets) our tweets, and despite her amazing palmares she’s totally approachable, even tweeting during the women’s tour that she was looking for ride companions!

On top of all that? She’s completely behind her team mates – as this video shows us…

Evelyn Stevens

This Boels-Dolmans rider hasn’t exactly had a ‘normal’ career, if there is such a thing in cycling. Stevens, now 32, joined the peloton having moved from a high powered career  working on Wall Street for Lehman Brothers.

Stevens bought her first bike in 2008, and went to the World Champs in 2009. Before taking the leap, she was working until 8 or 9pm and training on the turbo for one of two hours after that.

She told us, rather inspiringly: “I have learned that anyone can do anything. If you put your mind to it, well I probably can’t become a model or singer, but everything else I feel like if I really want to do it, I can figure out a way to do it. That is what my move from finance to cycling has taught me.”

Hannah Barnes

Still a very young rider, Hannah’s reputation is growing quickly, as well as her list of achievements. This year, she won the 22 year old won ‘Best Young Rider’ and the final stage of the women’s tour and she’s recently made the move to new women’s team Canyon//SRAM.

Always looking to learn, she told us at the team launch: “The riders are the most successful I’ve been on a team with, I’m going to just try to learn everything I can.”

What we love most about Barnes? Even when she’s knocked down physically, she’s never knocked down mentally… (she got back on and won this race, by the way…)


Rachel Atherton

Ok, so admittedly we’re writing this article about how there are plenty of female riders who aren’t just ‘machines’ – but Atherton is most commonly described as a machine. That’s because she absolutely dominates the women’s Downhill scene – but it doesn’t mean she hasn’t got a lot to say off the bike!

When the media jumped on the debate around body image and female cyclists, Atherton told Radio 5: “The important thing is to have a body that can work, that can do the sport that you love, that you choose to do, and not be focused solely on the way you look so you can perhaps get more media opportunities.”

Hayley Simmonds

Image: John Orbea/

OK – so Simmonds has only just turned pro, with the announcement she’ll be riding for United Healthcare next year. However, she already owns a muchly coveted stripy jersey – that of the British National Time Trial Champion.

Not only does Simmonds inspire us because she’s an incredible athlete, but because she’s made an incredible journey having lost 45kg to get to the podium. The once university rower didn’t start cycling until only a few years ago. Though we know she’s basically biologically bionic, her success story gives us an inkling of hope that perhaps, if we train hard enough, even we could be decent on a bike. And that’s what inspiring people is all about.

Those are just a few of our favourite cyclists  – we KNOW there are more. Who do you most look up to? 

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