Team dsm-firmenich is thrilled to announce that Rachele Barbieri, Josie Nelson and Abi Smith will join their Women’s program as of next season, strengthening their roster across the board and adding a mix of youth and experience. Barbieri and Nelson will wear the team’s jersey through to the 2026 season, while Smith has a contract with the team through 2025.
Hailing from Pavullo nel Frignano in Italy, Barbieri has had a good career so far on both the road and track, using her fast-finishing abilities to great effect. Back in 2017, she won the Scratch race event at the track World championships in Hong Kong and has since won gold medals at the European championships in both the madison and omnium events, alongside a handful of other medals. Transitioning and focusing more and more on the road in recent years, Barbieri has taken two pro wins so far: a stage at the Fryslân Tour and victory at the one-day race of Omloop der Kempen, producing two strong sprint finishes. This year has seen her pick up more good results, with several top five finishes at races such as Scheldeprijs and Veenendaal-Veenendaal. Utilising her track skills, Barbieri can position and handle herself well at the head of the peloton in those hectic moments; an ability and skill that she will look to bring to the team.
Of her signing, Barbieri said, “I’ve really admired the team from the outside for a long time. They all seem confident in each other which is great. Everyone works really hard for one goal and that makes me really excited to become a part of the team, as I love helping my teammates to reach their goals and really appreciate it then when they help me. I’m looking forward to joining the sprint group and helping Charlotte in the finales. I’m ready to change a lot on the bike and learn from all of the staff and experts in the team as best as I can so I can improve even more as a rider. I have big dreams and ambitions still and I think that at Team dsm-frimenich, all of the support and resources are available for me to help realise them. I’m excited and happy to have the opportunity and can’t wait to meet my teammates.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna added, “Rachele brings her years of experience in competing within the sport to our Women’s program. She has shown that she is a good sprinter in her own right and can finish off races, but she also is a very capable lead-out rider too. We see her fitting in very well to the lead-out and sprint group that we have in our Women’s program, where she can act as the last rider when we have Charlotte as our finisher, but Rachele will also get some opportunities too. She’s also a really open and honest person, who is pretty straight-up about what she thinks and she has a character that we think will fit in well with our team.”
Multi-discipline rider Nelson focused mostly on cyclocross during her junior career, but has transitioned more and more to road racing since stepping up to the elites. Transferring those good bike handling skills and punchy nature, it is no surprise that Nelson finds herself at home on the short climbs and hectic racing of the classics or similar parcours. 2021 saw some solid results before a stand-out performance at the British national championships road race where she took an impressive second place in Lincoln behind Pfeiffer Georgi. Last year, Nelson continued her development, winning the British national championships criterium, alongside a string of top results in the national series. An under the radar fourth place on the queen stage at the Tour of Scandinavia hints at her uphill potential and her abilities as a puncheur were further shown this season with a fourth place at the Cadel Road Race.
Nelson said, “I like the way the team takes on young riders and develops them. This was a really important factor for me, as I know I still have a lot to learn on and off the bike. I am looking forward to the challenges of stepping up to a WWT team and having the support to grow as a rider. I see myself as a classics rider or a climber, but I don’t want to close any doors yet. I still need to find my strengths and race style and the best way this contributes to the team. Over the next few years I want to have helped the team achieve some good results and to have developed myself as a rider. I have already achieved a few good WWT results, but I want to be more consistent in my racing. I bring some flexibility to the team in terms of what type of rider I can be and I have already raced in a lot of WWT races so I come in with a bit of experience too, which I aim to build on at Team dsm-firmenich.”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna continued, “Josie is a talented rider and has showed she is capable of performing on a variety of terrain; from mountain top finishes at Scandinavia Tour, to winning the British criterium championships, to finishing top five at Cadel Evans race. She is still very young and we have signed her for several years to allow her the time to grow in a measured way. Looking at her skillset long-term, we believe that she can grow into a rider that can potentially compete in the finals of hilly one day races, but in the immediate future she will also be able to provide strong support in those type of races too; supporting the team’s finishers in a good way.”
A former triathlete at a younger age, Abi decided that racing on two-wheels was the discipline that she enjoyed most and switched full time to cycling. Progressing through the sport in the juniors, she made the step up to elite racing in 2021 with some solid results that included a win at the tough Rás na mBan and an impressive third in the U23 time trial at the British Championships. 2022 saw her gain WorldTour level experience, riding in some of the toughest races on the calendar, such as Itzulia Women, Women’s Tour and the Giro d’Italia Donne, before going on to take the win at The Ryedale Grand Prix at the end of the year in a solo breakaway. This season has seen illness and injury plight her campaign, but a tenth overall at the Tour Down Under and fifth in the national U23 time trial highlight her potential for the future.
Smith explained, “What attracted me initially to the team was their professionalism and structured approach, which I believe will work well for me as a rider. It is also clear to me that there is a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the squad – in my opinion the best in the peloton – which I can’t wait to be a part of. The goal for the next few years is to continue my learning and development as a rider. By taking full advantage of the facilities and resources here at Team dsm-firmenich I hope to work on both my strengths and my weaknesses to maximise my potential. I really want to be a useful asset to the team and find where I can help our leaders in the best possible way. Of course, the goal with the team for the next few years is to win as many races as we can; I can’t wait to ride with the squad!”
Team dsm-firmenich head coach Rudi Kemna concluded, “Abi has a very big engine but has suffered from setbacks in the previous seasons, such as catching Covid-19 on almost back-to-back occasions, which of course hampered her development, or an injury that she has recently recovered from. Aside from her potential against the clock, we think that Abi can develop into an all-round rider with the team. She can use her power to help control and catch the breakaway to set-up a sprint for example, but she also can climb well, so can be an important factor deeper into races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège so that we have more numbers in the finale. Of course, she is still young so we will take things step-by-step but we’re looking forward to working with Abi in the coming years.”