Pfeiffer Georgi: a Classics star in the making

The young British rider has been with Team DSM since 2019 and is excited about the future of women’s cycling

As I speak to her, Pfeiffer Georgi is in her hotel room the night before Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Even via Zoom her excitement for the race is infectious. Bright eyed and with a broad grin, she speaks about Team DSM’s strategy for the race: “I think tomorrow we're going in with a few cards, and I am one of the cards that we can play. So if it plays out that I'm there in the final then I think I can get a great result.”

Related – Men's Paris-Roubaix 2021 Preview
Related - Paris-Roubaix Femmes 2021 Preview

Georgi has impressed this season, picking up her first ever victory for DSM in the French one-day race La Choralis Fourmies Féminine as well as countless top-10s, often while working for a teammate to take the overall victory. “I was getting really excited about the possibility of my first pro win,” she says, reminiscing about the race in Fourmies. “Then, coming into the finish, I could see the bunch almost catching us behind. I was trying to play it cool and not open my sprint too early.”

After joining Team DSM (then Team Sunweb) while completing her A-levels in the UK in 2019, and then having a disrupted season due to Covid-19, it’s the first time that Georgi has had the opportunity to race an entire season on the continent. The easing of restrictions this season means that, this year, her dad has been able to travel to watch the 21-year-old race, even witnessing her first professional win a few weeks ago. “My DS said that he was almost crying and I've never seen him cry,” Georgi says.

Pfeiffer’s journey is one that she and her father have been on together. Racing since she was in the Under-10 category, Pfeiffer and her brother (Etienne Georgi, former professional for Team Wiggins) travelled all over the country with their parents to countless races. So many years in the sport mean that the young Brit has built up exceptional tactical prowess, and she’s also comfortable in the peloton, rarely being out of position. Georgi at the World Championships (Image: Luc Claessen/Getty)

At the World Championships last weekend, Georgi was instrumental in positioning Lizzie Deignan for the climbs, with Deignan describing it as a “pleasure to follow [her] wheel” on social media after the race. “It's funny because she's always been my hero growing up,” explains Georgi. “I've always been fan-girling, so for her to say these things after the race and on Instagram, that was pretty cool. Also just to be her teammate and ride for her, that was quite special.”

Georgi’s bike-handling skills and experience in the bunch will certainly be an asset at Paris-Roubaix tomorrow. “Positioning is the most crucial, from the first sector onwards it's going to be a big fight,” she says. “I think our number one goal is to be there in front and then you don't know what's going to happen with punctures, crashes or any sort of positioning thing.”

Despite her ability to excel in a domestique-type role, Georgi has had opportunities to go for her own result this season and hopes for more at Roubaix tomorrow. “We have like quite a few cards to play with Floortje [Mackaij] as well and me and Lorena [Wiebes], so we can see how it goes,” she says.

Team DSM are often noted as one of the most well-drilled teams in the peloton, executing perfect leadouts for their sprinter, Lorena Wiebes and rarely being seen out of position. “I think we're maybe one of the best, actually, in positioning,” she says. “For me personally, at the start of the season, I was really nervous about positioning because I had a bad crash at the end of last year,” she explains.

“Definitely throughout this year I feel that I've got back to the level that I was before and this was because I was riding with teammates. I know they're going to be there and when we say we have a goal, then we're there together for the key moments.”

The prologue in Lotto Belgium Tour 2021 (Image: Luc Claessen/Getty)

With rain and a cross/tailwind tomorrow, Georgi expects some extremely fast racing with leadout trains going into the first sector in a similar formation as they would in the final sprint for the line. “Even after the first sector, it's probably not going to stop because it's only 116km and the sectors come pretty back to back. I think it's just going to be really hard the whole time,” she says.

For Georgi, who raced on the cobbles of the Assen Youth and Junior Tour growing up, Roubaix has always been a dream, but not one she ever thought would be attainable. Riding the inaugural edition of the race will be special for the young athlete. “It's been postponed twice before,” she says. “When it was on the first time, I wasn't actually going to be doing it so to be at the first one I think it's really exciting. It will be something that I've always done, the first Roubaix.”

In 2020, when the first Paris-Roubaix Femmes was initially scheduled to take place, Georgi was only in her first full season and didn’t have the experience to be selected for the event. In some ways, the postponements have been a blessing in disguise for the Brit. “It's quite nice to have grown for a couple years with the team and now I'm actually here,” she says.

Muur van Geraardsbergen in Lotto Belgium Tour 2021 (Image: Luc Claessen/Getty)

Georgi will continue with Team DSM until at least 2023, having signed a long contract extension with the team. She praises the team’s investment in developing her as a rider rather than expecting big results from her straight out of the junior ranks. "They've always had the focus that they want me to find what I'm good at,” she says. “I'm not trying to rush anything. With injuries I don’t try to get back straight away, but just keep in mind the longevity of my career. I think that's what I've really appreciated. I feel like I've actually learned so much with them already.”

Despite only being 21, Georgi hopes to move into more team captain opportunities with Team DSM next year, as she begins to see herself as specialising as a punchy Classics rider, with dreams of winning the Tour of Flanders and World Championships one day. With the Women’s WorldTour calendar constantly growing, there are plenty of opportunities for her ahead.

“I think I'm in a really lucky period of cycling where all these new races are coming up, especially the Tour next year,” she says. “We're getting more coverage and I think this is really important to keep women's cycling growing. When they do put the races on TV, you see how many people watch it. I think races just need to keep being shown live and then it's going to keep growing and get more exposure. With that, more money and more professionalism.”

Pfeiffer has a bright future ahead, and no one is more excited about it than her. “In the last few months I feel like I've been able to be competitive in WorldTour races and actually race aggressively,” she says. “ I'm always so excited to get into it.”