Four doyennes of the cycling world share their past experiences and their visions for the future. Lizzie Deignan, Fran Millar and Monica Santini in conversation with Orla Chennaoui.
Monica is CEO of Santini SMS, the eponymous cycling clothing company founded by her father Pietro in 1965. Together with her sister Paola, Monica oversees production of over 3,500 garments per day from their headquarters in Bergamo, exporting worldwide. The company has provided leaders’ jerseys for many races over the decades, including the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa, and continues to supply team kit for the likes of Trek-Segafredo and the Slovakian and Australian national squads.
Fran was with Team Sky prior to its inception in 2010, project managing with Dave Brailsford, and rose to the role of CEO at Team Ineos in 2019. She recently moved on to become CEO of motorcycle-cum-fashion brand Belstaff. Fran’s brother is the former racer David Millar.
Formerly Armitstead, the most frequently misspelt surname in cycling, Lizzie was world road race champion in 2015, alongside a host of one-day Classics and stage race victories. Following the birth of her daughter Orla in 2018, Lizzie returned to the top with wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, GP de Plouay and La Course, finishing 2020 as the number one rider of the Women’s WorldTour.
Orla is a cycling journalist, broadcaster and writer, trained in law and as a news correspondent. She has covered two Olympic Games and 11 Tours de France, and reports on cycling in her role as presenter for Eurosport and co-host of The Cycling Podcast Féminin. Orla has contributed to several books on cycling and writes regular columns for a UK newspaper alongside Rouleur. She has two young children, and lives a bike-centric life in Amsterdam with her husband and Irish-British-French-Moroccan-Dutch family.