When Women’s WorldTeam Canyon // SRAM announced they would be setting up a development program for 2022 it was considered a much-needed step for women’s cycling. Part of the team’s diversity and inclusion initiative, the application process for the team encourages riders of non-European origin who may typically struggle to find a pathway into the sport to apply.
The result is a roster comprising seven different nationalities from five continents but, as a German-registered team, UCI regulations meant that a certain number of riders from that country had to be on the roster. One of those riders is 22-year-old Ricarda Bauernfeind from Ingolstadt, near Munich, who so far this season has netted the team a win at a Spanish national cup, fourth at the UCI 1.1 Grand Prix Féminin de Chambéry, and three podiums as well as third on GC at the Vuelta Ciclista Andalucia Ruta Del Sol.
Having raced on the track at junior level, Bauernfeind has been coaching herself since 2020 while focusing on her university degree in education.
“After the junior class I didn’t have a coach because I wanted to focus more on studying. So I didn’t have enough time to train and I just went next to university. So when I had time I went on a trainer. And yeah, I did a lot of Zwift and I listened to my body. ” she tells CyclingTips. “I wanted to be free. And I wanted to decide on my own, which races I can do because of studying. ”
It clearly paid off. Last year, she won the bunch sprint for third at the national championships behind Lisa Brennauer and Liane Lipppert as well as showing some strong performances on the track, which drew the attention of Canyon // SRAM Generation manager, Ronny Lauke. Bauernfeind seized the chance to race for a UCI-registered team that would allow her to take a balanced approach to racing at such a young age.
“There’s still a big gap between the junior class and the woman pro races,” she says. “And for young girls, especially after the junior class, but also in my age, it’s still a big step to race in UCI races. And I think this team is a good step between the two types of races. Hopefully I can learn a lot in this sphere and be prepared for hopefully some more races in the future and also in the next years. ”
She still has designs on continuing to study despite her rising star in the sport, and hopes to complete the part-time course alongside her cycling career, “I will do it next to it. Because, yeah, it’s a good balance, I think, to train the body, but also to train the mind, ”she says. “Cycling is sometimes a little too boring, maybe. So yeah. I try to do both things. But of course not a full time study. ”
Bauernfeind was introduced to the sport through her brother – after he got a road bike she decided she wanted one too. Her parents, however, were not so keen.
“My parents weren’t so happy about it, because they thought it would be too dangerous for a young girl,” she says. However they soon saw how enthusiastic their daughter was for the sport and “I got my first bike and started racing, and now my brother is a triathlete. And I’m a cyclist. ”
Being part of a team like Canyon // SRAM Generation, says Bauernfeind is “really interesting because everyone is another type of rider but also another type of person. And yeah, we are one team so we have to find out how everyone reacts. ”
With the Generation team having such a close connection to its WorldTeam counterpart, the developing riders have ready-made mentors and role models within the structure. Bauernfeind describes how the two teams shared a training camp together in the south of Spain earlier this year: “We were in the same hotel. And we also did some training together. And yeah, it was really nice to know each other. And also to speak with the pros because usually, you just know them from the TV, or, yeah, when they win something and now you can ride next to them and they are talking to you and asking you. It was really, really cool. But I was also quite nervous to ride with them and train with them. ”
She particularly looks up to Kasia Neiwiadoma, “She’s such a strong rider. And she’s such a lovely person and also quite funny, ”to whom, as a climber, she can directly compare herself. For now, though, the focus is on seizing the opportunities presented by the Generation squad, including some upcoming big races such as the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, a home race for the German rider.
“I’m looking forward to the development of the team,” she says. “I think there will be a big development in the whole team and it’s nice to see. I’m also looking forward to some special races. ”