Lotta Henttala is set to leave AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep after signing a contract with the new EF Education-Cannondale team for 2024. The multi-time Finnish champion will bring her sprint to the US outfit with a focus on the Spring Classics and the Olympic Games in 2024.
“I still want to see where I can get in cycling, how good I can be,” said Henttala, who returned to racing with AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep in 2023 following a period away from the sport to have her child.
“I had some time off from racing, and then I started to think that maybe I didn’t give my one hundred percent for it yet, so I wanted to try and see how that would feel.”
The UCI added minimum salary and maternity leave clauses to top-tier women’s team contracts in 2020, and Henttala said that previous attitudes toward parenthood in the peloton have changed.
“I would say even five years ago, it was rare, or there was no one talking about it at all. But now I know several riders who are pregnant and having babies soon or already have babies. It is getting more common now. And that is nice. You don’t have to wait until your career is over.”
Henttala previously competed for teams Bigla, Trek-Segafredo and Ceratizit-WNT. She returned to competition with AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep this year with success, taking podiums in stages at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, second places at the Finnish Championships and top 10s at Ronde Van Drenthe and Nokere Koerse.
Henttala competed at the Tour de France Femmes, where she finished 12th on stage 3 into Montignac-Lascaux. However, she was later disqualified from the race, along with AG-Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep director Servais Knaven, for holding onto the team car on stage 6, a claim levelled by the official race jury that she later denied.
Henttala now brings her sprint to the growing roster at the new EF Education-Cannondale team that includes Veronica Ewers, Alison Jackson, Letizia Borghesi, Magdeleine Vallieres, Coryn Labecki, Nina Kessler, Noemi Rüegg and Megan Armitage, along with its general manager Esra Tromp.
“Don’t give up. That is the lesson I think I would bring,” Henttala said of joining her new team next season. “And not to think too much. You go to a bike race, and then you go home and train and be with your family, and then you come back and see again how the next race goes.
“You take your chances all the time to get better and better. So, don’t give up. When you have a rough time, it is okay. And have…