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• A renowned, versatile cyclist who stood on the podium of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift in 2023, Katarzyna ‘Kasia’ Niewiadoma will be one of the main stars of La Vuelta Femenina 24 by Carrefour.es.
• The Canyon//SRAM rider ended a 5-year spell without victories last Wednesday at La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, where she defeated top riders like Demi Vollering and Elisa Longo Borghini in the final climb to the Mur de Huy.
It might look as if women’s cycling was a Dutch affair, given how the best riders in history do seemingly all hail from the Netherlands. Leontien van Moorsel and her three Olympic golds, Annemiek van Vleuten and her three Grand Tours in one season, Anna van der Breggen and her long domination of the Ardennes classics, Marianne Vos and her evergreen prowess on every terrain – and, in the current days, Demi Vollering and Lorena Wiebes, firmly established as the world’s best riders when it comes to climbing (in the case of the former) and sprinting (for the latter).

Yet look further away in the last 15 years and you will find a number of cyclists who, coming from all over the world, have made a significant impact on defining what women’s cycling is nowadays by playing a role on its evolution with her performances, her example and her words. Veterans like South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman, Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, or our protagonist Katarzyna Niewiadoma (1994, Limanowa). As kind off the bike as fierce with a bib pinned on her back, the Polish rider has been present in the vanguard of women’s cycling for a decade, ever since she won the Euskal Emakumeen Bira at age 20. She is a consistent rider, solid in every terrain, able to perform in both Classics and stage races, both on the cobbles and on the hills, both on short, sharp climbs and on long, dragging ones. Her talents go further than road cycling, actually, as she is the current UCI Gravel World Champion.

A sporting and spiritual leader for the Canyon//SRAM team, ‘Kasia’ has had to endure a surprisingly long victory drought. Since the fourth stage of the 2019 The Women’s Tour until the 2024 La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, she spent 1770 days without celebrating an individual win – a poignant stat given that she took no less than 53 top5 placings in the meantime, including 3rd place overall in the 2023 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. No wonder she was so emotional after raising her arms in victory atop the Mur de Huy, defeating Vollering and Longo Borghini. “I really hope that, with this victory, I have inspired a lot of people who are pursuing their dreams,” she asserted. “I’ve failed a lot of times, with many near-misses, and never stopped believing. Reward is always there, waiting for us.” After closing her Classics campaign with a 5th place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes, she is off to participate in La Vuelta Femenina 24 by Carrefour.es after finishing 10th on its first edition.

– Why is it important for you to be an inspiration for other people?
Because I get a lot of inspiration from other people myself, in many parts of my life, and I personally feel a huge impact from other people’s words or performances in my life. That’s why I hope to be inspiring for others. It’s much greater to achieve something and then spread joy and happiness than just keeping it for yourself. I like that it works both ways – that I give and receive inspiration. That’s a nice way to live life – just exchange with others, both in the good and in the bad moments of your life.

– If you could pinpoint three figures that have been inspirational for you, who would those be?
It’s difficult to say. So many people deserve to be mentioned… First, my best friend Marianne. Second, Elisa Longo Borghini, who overcame so many obstacles last year and came so strong into this season after having such a bad year on which everything was seemingly going against her. I think it is pretty nice to have a competitor like her. Our riding styles resonate in so many ways. For many years we have been fighting each other in a positive way, being happy for each other after the finish line, and I hope it can continue like this. And, last but not least, every single female on my team, Canyon//SRAM, is a source of inspiration for me.

– In the press conference following La Flèche Wallonne Femmes, you said you “believed in personal development”. At which point did you decide to chase it?
I think personal development usually thrives after rough periods in life, when you realize something has to change. We all go through crises, or down moments. Age also helps – as you mature, you realize what are your priorities and what are the things that you unnecessarily worry about. In my case, Covid made me realize how much I love this sport. It happened around the time of my last victory and, from then on, winning got harder and harder. It built so much hunger in me, and made me think about what I could do to become the best rider in the world, looking for perfection as every person passionate about his or her job would do.

– What is your relationship with Spain like?
I love Spain. I have many good memories related to Spain. When I started to focus on my professional cycling career, I moved to Girona. I first lived with a roommate and then I met my partner, with whom I kept living there on and off. Two years ago, we moved to Andorra because Girona was a bit too packed with cyclists and we felt we needed a bit more space outside the cycling world.