Kessler sprints to top 10 at Ronde van Drenthe to close 2021 season
October 25, 2021
From Lauren Stephens claiming the US road title to Kristen Faulkner exploding onto the European scene with a stage win at the Ladies Tour of Norway, Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank has enjoyed another season full of extraordinary moments and unforgettable performances.
The most recent came last weekend, when Nina Kessler sprinted into the top 10 at Ronde van Drenthe, the final Women's World Tour race of the year.
Nina Kessler on her way to a top 10 at Ronde van Drenthe. Photo/Anton Vos
"Drenthe is a race where you don't know what to expect," Kessler said. "The move can happen early in the race, or the peloton will wait until the VAM-berg. This year, it was calm until the first cobbles. After each section, the bunch stretched out a little, but it wasn't too crazy. After the cobbles, it was still quite a big group. When we hit the VAM-Berg for the first time, however, racing was full-on. I felt really good.
"I was pretty empty in the end, but happy I could still sprint to tenth place. It was a long, hard race, but I'm really happy I finished the season with a top 10."
Kessler's result was the icing on the cake for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank's excellent year, and a fitting end to a packed road season that combined a beefed-up gravel racing schedule.
The gravel scene brought several trips to the podium, including Stephens defending her title at UNBOUND Gravel, Langley crushing Rooted Vermont, and Newsom dominating Gravel Locos in her home state.
Lauren Stephens and Emma Langley race Rooted Vermont in early August.
"Overall, it's been a great season for us with some real highs, such as Lauren's win at the national championships, and the team's first Women's World Tour victory with Kristen's stage win at the Tour of Norway," team director Rachel Hedderman said.
Kristen Faulkner on the podium with excellent company after finishing third overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway in mid-August. Photo/Anton Vos
Unfortunately, Sara Gigante - one of the top talents on the team - was plagued by injuries and illness during the 2021 season, but the young Australian star still defended her national title in the individual time trial at the beginning of the year and, later in the summer, took her talent to the Tokyo Games, where she finished 11th in the race against the clock.
The latter part of the season saw the welcome addition of Veronica Ewers, Abi Smith, and Nicole Frain to the squad. The three stagiaires rose to meet the highest level of competition with ease.
Frain focuses before the start of the final road race of the women's World Tour series, Ronde van Drenthe. Photo/Anton Vos
"It's been fantastic to see Emma, Veronica, and Abi jump so successfully into their first races in Europe, and the expansion of our gravel calendar in the US shows the team's adaptability," Hedderman said.
"In a year that has still presented challenges due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we have had a successful season and one where we've continued to grow as a team, and I'm looking forward to taking the next step in the team's journey as we move up to the World Tour next season."
Team founder Linda Jackson added she's proud of the results the team achieved this year.
"It was a difficult year with Covid-19 complications and rider injuries/illness, but the team rose to the occasion and had a terrific season," Jackson said. "I’d like to thank Rachel and Adrian Hedderman for their leadership and devotion to the team. We could not have achieved these results without their leadership."
"As we end this season and look forward to 2022, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as we become a World Tour team. It’s been a 17-year labor of love to bring a North American team this far, and the step up to world tour status brings a dramatic increase in the infrastructure and resources that we can provide for our riders," Jackson went on to say.
"TIBCO and Silicon Valley Bank continue to be amazing partners, and I’d like to thank them for their long-term support of women’s cycling. The team’s mission has always been to find and develop talented and promising female athletes into top international competitors. The additional resources that we now have will provide our athletes with the tools that they need for success. It’s thrilling to be part of the movement toward equality for women in cycling."