Powerhouse Silvia Zanardi and second-placed Paris-Roubaix Femmes finisher Katia Ragusa join the Tour de l’Avenir breakout star from Switzerland Linda Zanetti on Human Powered Health Cycling in 2024.
The Italian-speaking trio will bolster the classics squad and add speed and dynamism to stage races.
Zanardi takes the next step
All-rounder and recent stage winner at the Tour Feminin l’Ardèche, Zanardi will join the ranks of the Women’s WorldTour after five years at the continental level.
“I am really happy to join Human Powered Health. I am sure this step will help me in my growth,” she said. “I needed new stimuli, to be with girls older than me to learn. I am looking forward to new races and to be able to work when needed for my teammates.”
Impressive on flat days and on rolling terrain, her breakaway victory on stage 4 of Ardèche showcased the 23-year-old’s tactical smarts and strong legs.
“Silvia isn’t a pure sprinter, but a fast finisher after a difficult race,” said Kenny Latomme, Performance Director. “She is always racing for top tens and I’m excited to see how she adapts to the WorldTour.”
Zanardi, who comes from Fiorenzuola d’Arda, started cycling at the age of eight, swapping ballet shoes for carbon soles and cleats – much to the dismay of her mother. She hasn’t looked back since but is still finding the balance in her racing ability.
“In the coming years, I will definitely try to understand myself better as a rider. I am sure I will be able to do that in this team. Maybe next year I will fall in love with races in Belgium even,” she jokes.
Zanardi is also an accomplished track cyclist and won the Madison at the European Championships in 2022.
“I think the track is also very important for road racing, because it helps you to find the right cadence, to give you that rhythm you need at certain times in the race,” she explains.
Off the bike, she has a passion for art having studied graphic design at school. She still enjoys the pursuit as it helps to relax her mind when away from the theater of competition.
Ragusa looks to get classics ambitions back on track
The 2023 Paris-Roubaix Femmes was one of the most dynamic bike races ever. Emerging from an epic 114km day-long breakaway to climb the second step of the podium was Italian Katia Ragusa.
“I feel a lot of excitement to join Human Powered Health,” she said. “From the outside, you can see that it is a really nice environment and the team believes in the riders and is building something really exciting.”
A one-day specialist and a strong teammate in stage races, Ragusa has finished fourth on a mountainous Giro d’Italia Donne stage and has top ten placings in Branbantse Pijl, Vuelta a Burgos, and on the overall at the Tour Down Under.
“I really like the Spring Classics and I have eyes on them,” she says. “I’m an endurance rider. I do my best at the end of those classics and hilly races when the race is harder.”
Ragusa started racing from a young age following her dad and uncles’ wheel tracks around her hometown of Schio in Vicenza. The one-day skills she has learned since are important for her potential role as a domestique.
“She will be important to bring the climbers into position during stage races,” said Latomme. “If a rider can do well in cobblestone classics, then they are a fighter who can bring your leader into position in a GC battle.”
She describes herself as loving the simple life, walking in nature and discovering new places with her four dogs, Moky, Benny, Matley and Barilla.
Swiss diamond symbolizes long-term vision
With five victories this season, 2023 has been a breakout year for Swiss mountain biker turned road cyclist Linda Zanetti. With a win in her national under-23 championships, the EPZ Omloop van Borsele and on the opening road stage of the Tour de l’Avenir, the 21-year-old comes with plenty of promise.
“I believe she is a diamond in the making, someone that we can develop to a certain level,” said Latomme. “It’s a development that I believe may go fast. She is a winner who does well on many types of parcours, so it’s a year where we can explore everything with her and find her best qualities.”
Zanetti returns to the WorldTour level after a season at the UAE Development Team.
“I’m really looking forward to the next year,” she said. “It’s a new step forward for me and I am excited about racing WorldTour.”
The Swiss started racing at the age of 11 and was previously a mountain biker competing in cross country at the junior, under-23 and elite levels.
“This has provided me with good skills on the bike,” she explains. “When there’s a technical downhill it is not so difficult to ride in the peloton. If you mountain bike then for sure you can ride well on hard terrain on the road – which is why I like the classics.”
Human Powered Health Cycling is delighted to welcome Silvia, Katia and Linda to its ranks as the 2024 roster continues to grow.