Pfeiffer Georgi enjoyed a stellar second half to the 2021 season, with her first elite European win followed by an equally impressive victory in the British national road race in October.
The 21-year-old is determined to reach the very top of the Women’s WorldTour and has pinpointed the Tour of Flanders and the rainbow jersey as two of the biggest aims for her long-term future. At the same time, the British rider is keen to develop at a pace that suits her, and nothing will be rushed.
Georgi joined Team DSM at just 18 and was still in school studying for A-levels when she was rubbing shoulders and touching handlebars with the biggest names in the sport. At weekends she would fly to mainland Europe and race across the cobbles of Holland and Belgium before jetting back on Sunday evening in order to prepare for school on Monday.
Her team wisely gave her the necessary breathing space to concentrate on her studies and that philosophy has remained in place during her early years in the professional ranks.
“One of the biggest things in DSM is development. We’re a very young team and a lot of us have come from the juniors and into the WorldTour but they really focus on our long-term development,” she told Cyclingnews at the recent Rouleur Live event in London.
“So it’s not about making us the best riders straight out of juniors but instead making us stronger and making sure that we have long careers. What’s really nice is having so many good and experienced road captains and having them pass on their knowledge.
“They also don’t put immediate pressure onto us to perform. They told me that it would take time to learn and that I shouldn’t stress if something went wrong. And a lot of things went wrong, but I never felt that pressure to immediately perform. It was never ‘it’s been two years, you need to start winning’. There was just a lot of support.”
That support paid off when Georgi suffered a serious crash at the end of 2020 that left her with two fractured vertebrae. The comeback took time but, by June of 2021, she had reached peak form.
“From the Belgium Tour onwards, that’s when I really felt that I was part of the racing again, and I felt like I could start being aggressive. “I had more of an impact from that moment,” she said.
“In the first two years, it was obviously a big step up from the juniors and I was still finding my feet in the peloton. I was learning how to do my job and then from Belgium Tour, I could really race on roads that I really love with cobbles, rain, and wind. From then on I just had that real confidence and physically I just kept improving.”
Georgi racked up a string of top-10s in the race but her season only went from strength to strength, with impressive performances coming in the Simac Ladies Tour, before a win arrived in La Choralis Fourmies Feminine in mid-September. Further standout rides came in the Worlds and the Women’s Tour before she netted the elite British road title in October in Lincoln.
“I would definitely call the second part of the season a breakthrough for myself,” Georgi said.
“At the first part of the year, I was still coming back from a bad crash that I’d had last year. I was getting back to fitness and I was a bit low to start with but during the second half of the year, I definitely felt that I’d made a step up and that I’d taken on more of a leadership role within the team.
“During the first two years, I’ve just been learning about the role I’d have in the team and the type of rider that I’m going to develop into. This year I was hoping to do well in the Classics, and that’s where I see myself more in the future. They’re the races that I like and I was hoping to be a joint leader in some of those races.”
At home in the Classics
If the Classics are where Georgi wants to develop over the coming years, at DSM she will have far more leadership opportunities in the coming years, with several riders, including Coryn Lapecki, moving on.
Since a young age, the British road champion has been fascinated and passionate about the cobbles and the often brutal conditions riders need to contend with at the Classics. Her enthusiasm is clear as she talks about her first venture onto the cobbles of Holland.
“I’m good at the short, punchy climbs and then the cobbles, and the weather in the Classics when it’s cold and raining, that’s when I thrive. My best results seem to be in the harder conditions, so races like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, those are the races that I want to target in the future,” she said.
“They’re the sort of races I’d watch when I was growing up. We don’t have those sort of races here in the UK, so when I was a junior, that was the first time I went to Holland and rode on cobbles. The conditions, the echelons, it was just something that I really liked.
“Speaking to the team, I’ll take more of a leadership role in the Classics. In the last few races this season I was also more of a captain and that’s where I want to develop next year. It can be quite difficult to combine being a leader and a captain but that’s something that we’re going to try out. I’ll also be part of the lead-outs for Lorena [Wiebes] because I think that we’ve got a really strong unit there.”
While the short-term plan is to develop and maintain the levels of momentum that she has built up over the last 12 months, the long-term objectives remain on the table too.
Given her progression and maturity, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which the long-term goals come quicker than even Georgi expects.
“Obviously I’d love to win more races in 2022 but long-term I do have some big goals,” she said. “I want to be the road world champion and win the Tour of Flanders. They’re two of my big goals. Next year, I don’t know my race calendar yet but I want to go for more victories and to help the team.”