Liane Lippert: „Everybody will be at the top of their shape“
25-year-old Liane Lippert is the puncher on everyone’s lips right now. Her second-place finish in the Flèche Wallonne, coming a year after she took the bottom step of the podium in the Amstel Gold Race, painted a bright future for her in the Ardennes Classics. And the Tour? While the German champion describes her participation in the inaugural edition as „a great experience“, she makes no secret of the fact that she failed to achieve the hoped-for results after crashing in the stage she had marked in red. She is heading back to France and dreaming of finally raising her arms in victory, but she now races for a different squad. Last winter, she brought down the curtain on her time at DMS, the team where she had turned pro in 2017 right after her promotion from the Junior ranks. Annemiek Van Vleuten has taken her under her wing in Movistar, where the German hopes to repay the favour by propelling her team leader to the top of the podium in Pau.
Liane Lippert (Movistar Team)
Born in Friedrichshafen (Germany) on 13 January 1998
Team Sunweb (2017 to 2020), Team DSM (2021 to 2022) and Movistar Team (2023)
2016: Junior European champion
2018: German champion, stage 3 and the overall of the Lotto Belgium Tour
2020: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, second in the Brabantse Pijl and eighth in the Flèche Wallonne
2021: second in stage 3 of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, silver medal in the European Championships
2022: German champion, second in the Tour of Scandinavia, third in the Amstel Gold Race, third in the Brabantse Pijl and fourth in the Worlds
2023: second in the Flèche Wallonne, third in the Brabantse Pijl, seventh in the Itzulia Women and eighth in Liège–Bastogne–Liège
Signature trait: Liane Lippert was raised on the shores of Lake Constance, in Germany, where she still lives: „It’s a beautiful place not far from Austria and Switzerland. It’s perfect for training. I got started when I was eight. My father used to cycle recreationally. I signed up for his club and have never stopped pedalling!“
How would you describe the impact of the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on your life?
I would say pretty much. In Germany, women’s cycling is not very big, now it’s a bit more. Since the Tour de France, for sure, more and more people know about it. If I say I’m a cyclist, they know there was a Tour de France Femmes. That’s changed a lot, especially because I have the national champion jersey. It was nice to come back home. I won’t say people recognised me on the street, but they recognised me more. It was changing a lot. I get more fans and publicity. I get more interviews, more people from my area give me feedback after races.
And what about your career?
Firstly, I didn’t have the result I wished. I wanted to go for some stages, but I had some bad luck with the crash, and I had to work for Lorena [Wiebes, the winner of stages 1 and 5] in the sprints and for Juliette [Labous] for the GC, so for my results, it has not changed so much. It was just a great experience, I would say.
„I’m working to be able to fight with the climbers“
This sense of frustration must have been strong after the stage to Épernay? You were at the front of the race after the Côte de Mutigny. Then, you crashed on the descent…
Yes, it was, for sure. I had a chance with the team, I was ready for it, it was a good finish for me, and then I crashed and the race was finished. It was disappointing at the moment. It was my goal, and then we had to take the GC and go for sprint stages, there was a lot to do, so I could forget about it because I was busy.
After six years with DSM, you are now in a new team. What motivated you to move from DSM to Movistar?
After 6 years, I wanted to see something else, to find a new team. Movistar had a good plan for me, they really see me as a leader for the future. For me, it was a super opportunity.
Can we say that your move from DSM to Movistar is the sign that you also want to become a GC rider and succeed Van Vleuten at the top of the women’s cycling?
No, we are two completely different riders. I showed this year how strong I can be in the Ardennes classics [second in the Flèche Wallonne and eighth in Liège–Bastogne–Liège]. This is something where I want to focus, and to aim one step higher on the podium. For the GC, I have to see. I’m also working to be able to survive on longer climbs and be able to fight with the climbers. For sure, I want to test my legs this year on one of the Grand Tours. But I don’t want to change the rider I am because I think it’s a bad idea.
Tell us about your relationship with Annemiek and the role she has for you.
Annemiek really likes to share her experience, her knowledge, that’s really useful for the races. She’s one of the best. It was also nice to win the Vuelta together [Van Vleuten claimed the Spanish Grand Tour for the third time in a row last June]. It was a special feeling that I’ve never had before.
„The Tour is the biggest race where you can win“
What is your ambition for the second Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift?
We want to win with the team. Like last year, Annemiek wants to win the Tour. As for me, I’ll focus on stages. The fourth one, with the steep climb at one kilometre to go, suits me best. And I will support Annemiek for GC
Last year, the Tour came to the Vosges with two gruelling mountain stages. This year, it is going even higher in the Pyrenees. Would you say that the Tour brings new challenges to women’s cycling?
Yes, I would say so. But I also think the flat stages last year were hard too, which says a lot about the level of the Tour. Everybody will be at the top of their shape in the Tour. It will be very difficult to win because everyone is at such a high level.
Even if it has only had one edition so far, would you say that it is already the biggest race?
Yes, I would say so. I would love to win one of the Ardennes classics, but a stage in the Tour is the biggest race where you can win. I’ll do the nationals, the Giro and then the Tour. The races are planned to allow me to improve my shape for the Tour.