19.12.2023 Continental, News
Meet the Rising Stars of CANYON//SRAM Generation for the 2024 season.
CANYON//SRAM Generation is thrilled to announce its roster for the 2024 season. Going into its third year, the development team to the team is brimming with a mix of experienced and talented rising stars.
The team will field nine riders for the first time in its three-year history. Diane Ingabire and Daniela Schmidsberger continue with the team for their second season, while six of their teammates are new to the Women’s Continental Team. The ninth and final rider will be the winner of the 2023 Zwift Academy, announced in early 2024.
CANYON//SRAM Generation started in 2022 as part of CANYON//SRAM Racing’s long-term diversity and inclusion program and set out to provide a new pathway to the sport’s top. Recruitment was aimed at, but not limited to, riders from countries underrepresented in the women’s peloton. Riders were given the necessary resources and opportunities to live, train, and race in Europe, as well as support to prepare them for a successful career in professional cycling with the backing of qualified staff and CANYON//SRAM Racing’s team partners.
In its first two years, CANYON//SRAM Generation has quickly shown its value as a pathway for riders to forge a career in cycling. Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermaier moved from the development team to the World Tour Team in 2023, winning stages at the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, respectively. With their hard work, dedication, and team support, other riders have placed in the top ten in UCI races, won various national championships, and earned medals at the Pan-American Games. In 2024, another rider from CANYON//SRAM Generation, Justyna Czapla, moves to the World Tour Team.
CANYON//SRAM Generation Sport Director Adam Szabó says, “I am looking forward to the season where we have many new riders and have established a pathway to provide a platform to as many talented riders as possible. I’m sincerely happy that we can give talents from various countries opportunities and guide them to be successful in the professional racing environment.”
The roster for CANYON//SRAM Generation in 2024 is Selam Amha Gerefiel (Ethiopia), Diane Ingabire (Rwanda), Anastasiya Kolesava (Belarus), Jule Märkl (Germany), Florence Nakagwa (Uganda), Awen Roberts (Great Britain), Daniela Schmidsberger (Austria), and Ese Lovina Ukperesaye (Nigeria). These rising stars have already shown tremendous potential and are ready to make their mark on the sport and inspire future generations of cyclists.
MEET THE RIDERS
Selam Amha Gerefiel
Hailing from a football background, Selam Amha took up cycling in 2016. Despite facing many obstacles and challenges, she persisted with her cycling career. She has been twice the national road champion (2016, 2018), twice the U23 ITT African Continental Champion (2018, 2019), and Elite ITT African Continental Champion (2019), and represented Ethiopia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Selam Amha spent three seasons racing in Europe with the World Cycling Centre (WCC). The 26-year-old rider gained confidence and experience racing in the peloton and looks forward to sharing her experiences with her teammates.
“I began cycling in the beginning of 2016. Although I was previously a footballer, cycling had become my favourite sport. I found many obstacles when starting, such as a need for more support for female cyclists whose role in Ethiopia is seen inside the home and not outside riding bikes, and the lack of cycling in my home town compared to football and running. I was invited to a training camp in Rwanda, but unfortunately, I could not go due to a lack of funds and difficulty accessing a passport. There are many strong female riders in Ethiopia, but receiving invitations to international races and travelling outside the country is difficult.
In 2021, I joined the WCC team, where I gained confidence and positivity in my life. Back home, I had little information from my family due to the war in my region, and the WCC team will always hold a special place in my heart for the support I received.
I enjoy racing in the mountains and time trials. I’m very excited to join CANYON//SRAM Generation next year. I aim to be a better person and cyclist and to help my teammates and staff on and off the bike,” says Selam Amha.
Diane has extended her contract with CANYON//SRAM Generation for a second season to the end of 2024. The 22-year-old Rwandan rider is the current and two-time national time trial and road race champion. In her first season with the team, Ingabire had strong performances, placing fourth at the African Continental Championships Elite Road Race, fourteenth at Gran Premio Igartza, and winning the general classification at Tour du Burundi Féminin.
Diane says, “I’m really looking forward to staying with CANYON//SRAM Generation for another season. It will be my sixth year as a cyclist. I had a lot of experiences this year, living and training in Girona and going to many new races. My goal is to work hard and be a good teammate. I hope we have a lot of success together as a team in 2024.”
Despite being just 23 years old, Anastasiya already has five years of experience racing in Europe and plans to use these experiences to help guide her teammates on and off the bike. Describing herself as an all-rounder who can manage herself in flat races and stage racing, Kolesava also loves climbing. She won a stage at Giro Toscana Internazionale Feminile in 2023, rating it as her most significant result to date.
“This was a huge psychological victory since I didn’t believe I could win an international race. It has been a dream of mine since I was 15 years old, and I always looked up to riders like my fellow Belarusian pro rider, Alena Amialiusik, who inspires me to keep pursuing my dreams. In 2024, I want to unite with the team at CANYON//SRAM Generation and support each other. My goal is to be on the podium with the team and improve my skills and those of my teammates. With my racing experiences, I can help my teammates with good advice and tips,” says Anastasiya.
Being surrounded by cycling from a very young age, Jule has always set her sights on becoming a professional cyclist. She has raced in track, cyclo-cross and road disciplines and says her most significant achievement is representing Germany at the Junior Road World Championships and signing with CANYON//SRAM Generation. The 18-year-old German can’t wait for the 2024 season.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and consider it an important step in my cycling journey. I’m excited to race with my new teammates and gain experience in the elite peloton. My goal is to develop as a rider and support the team to the best of my ability,” says Jule.
Florence started cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic to transport deliveries to her grandparents’ place, a 50km round trip she made daily. In 2021, the then-17-year-old joined the Masaka Cycling Club Foundation, where her dream of a cycling career started.
Florence says, “I liked cycling ever since my dad and brothers were cyclists, but I just didn’t have an opportunity to do it because of the culture and traditions in Uganda. In 2021, I had an opportunity to break that culture when Masaka Cycling Club, which mostly had boys as members, was looking for girls to join. I always had the belief that girls can cycle the same as boys do, and so I joined.
In 2022, I raced gravel with Team Amani, an East African team based in Iten, Kenya. In 2023, I participated in the African Continental Road Cycling Championships, won the Ugandan national road championship and participated in the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Glasgow. I would say I’m a hardworking, resilient, patient and coachable cyclist and a student of the sport.
Through cycling, I managed to earn and save money and purchased my own plot of land. I have managed to help out my family financially, hence taking care of my little brothers’ school dues. I have also met many new friends. I feel excited about signing with CANYON//SRAM Generation. This has always been one of my dream targets for 2023. I’m looking forward to great teamwork and being nurtured through the different aspects of cycling to be a better cyclist.”
Awen started riding at her local cycling club in Carmarthen, Wales. She was inspired by Geraint Thomas winning the 2018 Tour De France and watching broadcasts of Women’s World Tour road races. Her cycling journey has steadily progressed through her youth and junior years, winning several youth titles and representing Great Britain as a junior rider at international races.
Awen says, “I’m a very determined rider who always gives 100%. I’m a willing team player, favour the harder terrain and love a good climb. My sprint is competitive, and I have a positive outlook on racing. I feel great about signing with CANYON//SRAM Generation and look forward to racing with my new teammates and learning from one another.”
Daniela moves into the second year of her contract with CANYON//SRAM Generation in 2024. The 19-year-old Austrian rider says she learned much in her first season in the elite category, competing in 25 UCI races, including six stage races.
“At the beginning of the season, the change from the junior to elite category with a Continental Team was a really big step that I struggled to handle. Everything was new and different, and the races were much longer. But as the season went on, I was able to adapt more and more. I really enjoyed our last stage race of the season together, at the seven days of the Tour de l’Ardéche stage race. I learned a lot from the team, and we all gained confidence and raced together as a strong team. I hope this is something that we continue to build upon in 2024, and I aim to perform better in some of the races I will do for the second time in 2024,” says Daniela.
Ese Lovina Ukperesaye –
Ese is the current Nigerian National Road Champion and the African Continental Road Champion. She was ready to turn away from cycling after tiring of training with minimal opportunities to race. The 24-year-old is thrilled to sign with her dream team and looks forward to preparing for the Paris 2024 Olympics, where she has already been selected to represent Nigeria in the road race.
Ese says, “I travelled to Switzerland in 2016 and saw women competing in cycling and doing it well. That was a motivation booster for me and was when I decided to make cycling my career choice. Back home, cycling is not popular, and there are no sponsorships, even if many young people are interested. I said I would stop cycling if I returned from the Paris Olympics and hadn’t signed with a team. I’m tired of training without any opportunity to do races. Now, I will have a whole season of racing with CANYON//SRAM Generation. Being part of this team is a great privilege, and I will never take it for granted. I plan to do my best to perform well and be happy and grateful to be part of a team I always loved. I aim to win any of our team races and make myself and the team proud of our efforts.”