Magdeleine Vallieres and Letizia Borghesi will join EF Education-Cannondale next season. The pair both have two years experience on the Women’s WorldTour and, though they have already shown themselves to be exemplary teammates, Letizia and Magdeleine are looking to grow with their new team.
At just 22-years-old, Magdeleine Vallieres has yet to find her limits. She surprised herself last year with her abilities in the mountains at both the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes. She has again proven herself to be a dependable climber this season, supporting Veronica Ewers in the American’s key races. For Magdeleine, discovering her own capabilities is part of the sport’s appeal.
“I love races like Strade Bianche and the grand tours,” Magdeleine said. “I like the long races, because you really get to push your limits to another level going that hard every single day. I like how you can improve so much within a race too. In stage racing, you get to apply what you’ve learned from the stage before and keep pressing forward.”
Her enthusiasm to learn and to be an effective teammate are what drive Magdeleine.
“I’ve learned a lot as a rider in the WorldTour so far. If you asked me two years ago, I don’t think I always had a solid understanding of the tactics or I didn’t always know the best way to do my job as a support rider. Now I feel like I’ve gained some experience and knowledge that I can put forward to helping the team. I want to get stronger of course and there’s still so much more I want to learn from my new teammates so that I can be the best helper.”
Esra Tromp, team General Manager, is equally excited to see how much Magdeleine can still grow. “She is still very young, so we still need to really find out where her limit is and how we can support her in her development.
She knows how to be a super helper for a lot of the riders in the team, but I hope that we can develop her even more, to the point where she can also go for a result herself.”
Magdeleine’s love of learning extends beyond the bike. Alongside racing, she is studying business administration.
“I’ve always wanted to have a business,” she admitted. “I used to have one last year, so I know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and it interests me for a possible career after cycling. I’m taking it slow. Cycling is definitely my biggest focus, so I make sure I don’t study too much and I am doing my degree online. It’s also nice to have something else that you can turn your mind to apart from training and racing.”
The rider from Sherbrooke, Quebec spent much of her adolescence racing cyclocross and mountain bikes in addition to road racing, but she credits her dad with introducing her to cycling.
“I would also spend my summer vacations visiting my mum in Gaspésie, Quebec, which was about 1,000 kilometres from where we lived in Sherbrooke. When I was nine, my dad just said, ‘Oh, this year we’ll go there by bike.’ We did it in about nine days, camping on the way, and being self-supported. Just ride and ride and eat, that’s all I had to do every day. I really loved it!”
This off-season, when Magdeleine returns to Canada before the Quebecois winter sets in, she plans to do that same route from Sherbrooke to Gaspésie again.
Letizia Borghesi is another rider who is an established team player, but is still hungry to improve. Hailing from the mountains of Trentino, Italy, Letizia grew up racing on all types of terrain and in all types of weather. Consequently, she has grown into a classics-style racer who loves one-day races.
“The classics are really good for me,” Letizia said. “I’m good in Belgian-type weather, on the cobbles, on gravel, I have good bike handling skills. So the classics are my favourite, because you have to do a lot of short efforts on the steep climbs right after tight corners while keeping your position in the bunch. I love this type of racing, but I still want to improve even more to fight for results next year.”
Esra believes the Giro stage winner still has room to grow. “Letizia is maybe one of the best positions in the bunch and she has the skills to go downhill or over the cobbles. She’s helped with lead outs in the past but I would like to figure out if she can sometimes do a sprint for herself as well. She is not a pure, pure sprinter, but on a selective course, or from a small group she can do a great result, so I am curious if we can develop that a bit more.”
The 24-year-old is excited to see not only what she can do in 2024, but what the team can accomplish together.
“Next year will be our first year of working together but I already think we can achieve a lot of great things together. We will have to learn to work together and to improve together, but this is a talented group and I believe in what we can do,” Letizia said.
Esra is impressed with Letizia’s racing as well as by her approach to the sport. “She is really eager and would like to bring something to the team. That is cool, because a lot of times, riders will think only about themselves, but she sees that team aspect a lot and that’s really important. She will be a great character to have in the team. Letizia talked about wanting the team to be her second family where there is an open culture and everybody can say what is on their mind, and still have fun with each other and encourage each other to get the best out of themselves.”
When she’s not training and racing, Letizia spends her time with her family, but even that time often centres around bikes. Given that her younger sister also races, her dad was a high level amateur cyclist in his youth, and her mum just enjoys going out for a ride, the entire family revolves around cycling.
When she wants to switch off from racing, Letizia runs and hikes in the mountains near her home, often bringing the family dogs with her. She earned her first degree in sports science and is now working towards a second degree, this time in biology with an emphasis on nutrition.
There are so many aspects of next season that Letizia is looking forward to that she struggles to name them all. “I’m excited,” she admitted. “I’m really excited to get to know the new squad. I’m excited to make a plan to better develop my strengths and to work on my weaknesses. I’m really excited to work with this organisation. I’m looking forward to this new environment. I’m just really excited about everything!”