For those who followed the 2020 women’s road cycling season, it will come as little surprise that the winner of the (newly instated) young rider category of the Voxwomen Sharon Laws Rider of the Year Award is 22 year-old German, Liane Lippert.
“I’m really happy,” she said over video call upon hearing the news. “It’s super nice, I think it’s nice to have this category otherwise it’s hard for young riders to make it so yeah it’s really cool.”
Lippert came in to the 2020 season guns blazing. She took second place on GC at the Tour Down Under before going on to win the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race against some of the biggest names in the women’s peloton – a feat which won her the overall Women’s World Tour (WWT) leader’s jersey.
“I would say the start in Australia was for sure the highlight,” she said. “Also because there was no Coronavirus and we didn’t know about it…and it was my first win in the world tour so that was really special.”
However, Cadel Evans in February would prove to be Lippert’s last race for months as the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and consequently WWT racing was postponed until August. How did she cope with the lockdown? “I think I handled this really well,” she says. “And I was at home so I had some motivation to ride here and I think I came out stronger.”
“I’m also glad that I could train outside because some of us had a real lockdown in their countries so I could really keep training. I think we did it in a good way and to keep the level and then build up before the first races again.”
Whatever Lippert did to carry on her form certainly paid off. She came back with the WWT leader’s jersey to defend and at a very competitive edition of Strade Bianche she rode to 16th place – after an unfortunate mechanical – to hold on to the WWT.
Lippert hung on to the overall lead with 10th at GP Plouay before eventually losing the jersey to Lizzie Deignan following Deignan’s win at La Course. No matter, the Sunweb rider had another jersey to defend: the WWT young rider’s classification and through an impressively consistent Giro Rosa followed by an equally strong classics season, she cemented her lead further.
With so many impressive performances, what was her season highlight? “I think almost every World Tour race was a highlight because I could wear the jerseys,” she says. “First, the overall and then the young rider jersey, that was really special and I also had some good results in the World Tour races. So I would say all of them were quite special for me.”
In between her impressive Giro Rosa and Classics campaigns, Lippert also rode her way to 5th place at the World Championships in Imola: “Worlds of course was super cool with the National team to get 5th place.”
Lippert eventually secured the 2020 WWT Young Rider’s Classification with a 24.3 point lead over her nearest rival, team mate Lorena Wiebes.
After such a strong final year as an U23 the young German must surely feel confident going into her first elite season. “It was my last year as an under 23 and nice to win the Jersey in the last year because I never had it before – not even for one day – so that was cool,” she says.
If Lippert feels any pressure for next season she certainly didn’t show it, the soon-to-be 23 year-old is hungry to better this year’s performance: “Next year I’m not a young rider anymore and I hope that I can show that and make another step and improve my level and really be consistent like I was this year,” she says. “But now get some better results and more podiums in better races and really show my level and improve my climbing skills even more.”
Her targets for 2021 include bettering the Classics results she achieved in 2020: “The Ardennes Classics fit me really well so I was quite sad that the Amstel gold race was cancelled,” she says. “I think any race with an uphill finish is good for me as long as it’s not too long a climb. So yeah, I think the three Ardennes fit me pretty well and I want to be in top shape for them.”
2021 will also herald some changes for Lippert and her team in the form of a new sponsor. Is she happy to have DSM (Dutch State Mines) on board? “That’s a really good step for the team,” she says. “DSM is such a big company and we’ve worked with them already in the past. I think it’s a great step for us and it gives a lot of confidence in the team so you know it’s really for the long term.” She added: “Its a strong team behind this company and for the riders it’s really great news to hear that.”
Interview by Amy Jones. Photo credit: Patrick Blunt