Puck Pieterse will ride a more extensive road schedule in 2024 according to Fenix-Deceuninck team manager Philip Roodhoft.
The 21-year-old is already one of the top multi-discipline athletes in cycling, impressing at elite level in cyclocross and mountain biking. However, her road career is still in its infancy having only completed two professional road races in 2023.
Despite this, her two race days did include a fantastic fifth-place finish at Strade Bianche only bettered by four stars of the road – Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Of course, the white gravel roads raced at Strade suited the characteristics of the off-road specialist, but her explosive power and ability to climb in cyclocross and mountain bike suggest she could go on to perform well on a multitude of parcours.
“She will definitely ride Strade Bianche again next season,” said Roodhoft to WielerFlits after the cyclocross World Cup round in Gavere.
“We also want to expand her program a bit, but we don’t want to commit too much in advance. We want to wait and see how she comes out of the winter.”
Pieterse took her first win of the winter season at the Gavere World Cup ahead of Fem van Empel, ending her long-standing winning streak in the process, while her summer will largely be built around the Olympic Games in Paris and the cross-country MTB event.
“Her road program should not disrupt her preparation for the Olympic Games and we also have to do everything right in the longer term,” said Roodhoft.
“Anyway, we hope she will compete in more races than last season. We expect that too. We saw in Strade Bianche last year that it makes sense to continue working on this.
“Last year it was about discovery and you could see that she enjoyed it. We put no pressure on her at all. She prepared well then, but of course, it was not yet 100%. She had no ambitions then because there were no reference points. Now those two things are there.”
Fenix-Deceuninck stepped up to the Women’s WorldTour in 2023 and more than showed themselves at the biggest races, taking a stage win at the Tour de France Femmes through Yara Kastelijn, another rider who came from a strong cyclocross background.
Alongside her, Christina Schweinberger, Julie De Wilde and Marthe Truyen all established themselves as riders to watch out for with the development at Fenix-Deceuninck working well. Pieterse will be key to the team’s future having signed a contract extension earlier in the season until 2027.
Pieterse has performed right at the top of whatever discipline she’s focused on even at such a young age with her cyclocross success evident and her mountain bike results perhaps more impressive.
In her first elite MTB season, she became the first-ever Dutch woman to win the overall cross-country title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
She consistently produced podium results and took wins in both XCO and XCC throughout this summer. Pieterse finished second in short track and third in cross-country at the World Championships in Scotland behind Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and looks to be a perfect candidate for a rainbow jersey in future.
Fellow multi-discipline stars have shown how well their talents can translate on the road such as legends in Marianne Vos and Ferrand-Prevot. But more recently Shirin van Anrooij and Fem van Empel – who are two of Pieterse’s closest competitors in cyclocross at the moment – have both had success at WorldTour level already, suggesting a similar pathway is imminent for the Dutchwoman.