British champion Pfeiffer Georgi on her big win, her 2022 ambitions and e – Rouleur
A lot can change in a year. At the start of 2021, Pfeiffer Georgi wore a neck brace after a serious accident, working slowly to be able to train again. In the end, she was the British National Champion, had achieved her first professional victory and is now widely regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the women’s peloton. But Georgi’s resilience did not surprise those who have followed his journey in the sport.
Riding for the first time on a velodrome when she was only four years old, the bike is an integral part of the British cyclist’s identity, and cycling is in Georgi’s blood. “My first real race was when I was six at Castle Combe,” she told me.
“My brother and I did this every week throughout school and we practiced together. My mom did time trials twice a week and my grandpa always rode a bike so it was part of our family. We would go out to clubs and go out to coffee on weekends together. It is something that we have always done. I only grew up knowing about cycling.
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Georgi attributes much of his more recent success to bimmersed in sport from an early age. Years of experience in a peloton have given her exceptional tactical prowess, and cycling is practically second nature to the 21-year-old.
“We watched the races all the time so I think it taught me a lot about tactics, ”she explains. “When we started training together, me, my dad and my brother started racing against each other. So it’s just the little things you pick up that still benefit me now. “
Portrait of Véronique Rolland
Georgi’s unique ability to read a race has not gone unnoticed both to his coaches and colleagues. At last year’s world championships she was given the role of positioning Great Britain team leader Lizzie Deignan on the narrow coasts of Flanders. It was a job she excelled at, Deignan expressing how impressed she was with her young compatriot after the race. “Lizzie was my hero growing up, so doing a good job for her was something pretty special,” Georgi said.
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However, confidence in the peloton has not always been so easy for the Team DSM rider. After his potentially career-threatening accident at the end of 2020, which left him with two broken vertebrae, it took months of hard work for Georgi to be able to compete in the Spring Classics in early 2021.
“I was in a neck brace for a month and physically it took me a while to get back on the bike. Also, because of a lot of stiffness in the neck, I had to do a lot of physiotherapy, ”she says. “It was first of all learning to walk and then to ride easily on the home trainer, then to slowly get back on the road.
“The hardest part was the mental part, because I was really terrified of falling again. I completely lost confidence in the peloton. As soon as it got a little crazy then I just bailed out because I had it in my head that if I crashed it would be bad.
“I worked a lot with a mental coach and found some strategies to deal with the anxiety I had in the first part of the season, but I definitely made improvements over the next few months. Now, I feel pretty much back to normal with driving in the peloton.
As she climbed the famous Michaelgate climb to claim victory over Lincoln at the British National Championships later that year, there was no sign of the mental or physical challenges Georgi had overcome to get there. With clenched teeth, she glided over the cobblestones with such power that she left her competitors in her wake. Thanks to these years of experience, the young rider’s attack was ideally timed, as she positioned herself perfectly at the foot of the climb, without a hint of residual fear of her fall a year before.
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“I was surprised how good I felt,” Georgi said, thinking about his victory. “I actually didn’t think I could get off it until the last climb. I tried to attack him with two laps to go and had a little gap on my own. It gave me a little confidence in thinking that if he got all the way to the bottom of the last climb then I would have a chance.
“I just tried to keep the group moving. When the attacks went, I followed them but tried to be a little smart with my energy. Then when we knock [the climb] last time I filled up with gas and didn’t look back to the line. When I walked through it I thought to myself: wow, I did. It was a total shock, ”she explains.
Georgi winning the 2021 UK Nationals (Image: Alex Whitehead / SWpix)
The DSM team wasted no time getting Georgi to work in his new red, white and blue national champion jersey after his victory. She made her debut with the British stripes for the first time in her last race of the 2021 season, Ronde van Drenthe. Part of the selected lead group of 7 riders and achieving several lightning attacks, it was an impressive race for the young rider in a stacked WorldTour peloton. Georgi eventually finished in 6th place after helping her team manager, Lorena Wiebes, to victory in the overall standings.
“Drenthe was my last race of the season, it was quite late at the end of October,” she explains. “It’s a time where the motivation sometimes fades a bit, but I think having this jersey gave me so much more motivation and I felt really good that day.
“It was so good because everyone in the peloton was approaching me and saying well done. [for becoming National Champion]. Some of the more experienced runners said it was a really good race. It was so cool.
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Georgi will continue to race in the national jersey with the DSM team sponsors scattered across the front lines for the coming season and beyond, having extended his contract with the team until 2023. It is an outfit in which Georgi thrives on, despite the bad press DSM has had in recent years with riders who chose to terminate their contracts with the team earlier.
“I actually had such a good experience with them,” Georgi says. “Because I joined them straight out of the junior ranks, they have always focused on my development and we are a young team. They are really good at raising runners and developing their own leaders.
“For me, they really took care of me and focused on my development. With the injuries I had, they helped me get back from them in time, without rushing anything, but really being careful that I wasn’t exhausted.
Portrait of Véronique Rolland
Although the 2021 season has exceeded his expectations and those of his team, Georgi has no illusions that the hard work is being done. Her high ambitions for 2022 and intrinsic motivation mean she is preparing for a winter where she will tackle some of her weaknesses.
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“I’m going to focus more on the gym and build my strength because the classics are my main focus, the short, punchy climbs,” she explains. “I also think a little about the time trial. I hope to be able to do some wind tunnel testing and refine my position, because I think in future stage races I could also target.
Along with her personal ambition, Georgi envisions an exciting future for the entire women’s field, recognizing that her career is developing at a pivotal time for the sport. Races like the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix are those in which, growing up, the young British rider thought she might never get the chance to participate.
“I felt that driving in Roubaix was a historic moment. It was great to see the buzz around it and to see people appreciating how exciting women’s running is. I think when it’s shown people love to watch it.
“Our races are shorter, but I think that makes them more exciting. I think if you can show the whole race then people will watch it. Thinking back to the race now, I realize that it’s pretty cool to be in the very first women’s edition. It’s something that I can always say I’ve been a part of.
As for his 2022 calendar, nothing is set in stone, but Georgi loves the look of the Tour de France Women’s route, whether for his own ambitions or to help the sprinter of his team to take that first yellow jersey on the Champs Elysées. . “I think it would be really special and given the course it’s really exciting with short and punchy stages, the gravel stage and also the most difficult at the end. I think there is something for everyone in it. I don’t know the lineup, but I definitely have an eye on it, ”she says.
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“It’s really important that we have races like the Tour de France because it’s a very high profile race. I think having races like this will bring a lot of sponsorship and it’s just going to increase the professionalism of women’s cycling, have line to line coverage.
“You will actually be able to see the work the runners are doing, it’s not just the results sheet. I think it is a step towards parity with men. There’s no reason we couldn’t have had these races before, but it’s exciting that we finally do.
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