When Danielle De Francesco lined up with Zaaf Cycling Team at the Tour Down Under in January to make her international debut with the Spanish squad she quickly stood out as a savvy signing. The Australian demonstrated that she was clearly one of the new batch of neo-pros to watch closely, finishing fourth on two stages and also snaring sixth overall at her first Women’s WorldTour race.
It’s no surprise then that the 29-year-old, who can handle the climbs as well as deliver a fast finish, has now found a new home despite being put in the difficult situation of needing to find a new contract mid-season.
For French team Arkéa Pro Cycling Team there has been a silver lining on the cloud of Zaaf turmoil.
The former triathlete turned her focus to cycling two years ago and, after winning the National Road Series in Australia with ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast in 2022, quickly inserted herself among the best riders in the international peloton in 2023. Given the puncheur now sits at 84th in the UCI rankings she will be joining Arkéa as its top-ranked rider and doing it with time to settle in ahead of the team’s biggest race of the season.
“My dream would of course be to take part in the Tour de France this summer, and to help the Arkéa Pro Cycling Team to achieve great performances in this event, which has become a reference in the professional women’s peloton, but also to put myself in the spotlight. every time I could on the other events on the calendar that we will have to compete in,” said De Francesco in a release from her new team.
Arkéa is among the five teams awarded wildcard invitations to race the Tour de France Femmes, alongside the automatically invited 15 Women’s WorldTour squads and top two Continental teams.
De Francesco seems a sure selection, given her results so far this season also include top five finishes at the Australian National Championships in both the road race and time trial, as well as fifth at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. She also took to the podium at a time trial at the Vuelta Extremadura Féminas and captured sixth place overall at the race, won by her new teammate Megan Armitage.
De Francesco went on the escape with Armitage as that event, and in the process drew the attention of Franck Renimel, Arkéa sports director. Now she will make her debut with the team, who was so recently a rival, at the Grand Prix du Morbihan on Saturday May 6 on home territory for the squad.
“I really want to thank Arkéa…
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