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Next in line – Rouleur

Next in line – Rouleur

This article was originally published in Issue 118: The Classics Issue. To support our journalism and read more interviews with some of the sport’s biggest stars, subscribe to Rouleur magazine.

Liane Lippert is the next big thing in professional women’s cycling. She pops up at the front of races regularly with performances that are a cut above anyone’s expectations of her. She leaves commentators double checking their start lists for her name, journalists cursing themselves for not having her on their list of pre-race favourites, fans Googling her previous race results. Who was that? Did you see how strong she was?

Lippert isn’t a pure climber, nor is she a specialist sprinter, nor focused on the Classics. At the same time, the German cyclist can do almost everything very well. In her career so far, she’s been a jack of all trades, but not quite a master of any. Lippert has come very close to beating some of the biggest stars of women’s cycling on days where things have gone right for her – think of her third place in the 2022 Amstel Gold Race behind Marta Cavalli and Demi Vollering, or her second place behind Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig at the Tour of Scandinavia. Her palmarès is littered with commendable podium finishes, but the 25-year-old hasn’t had a victory outside of her national championships since January 2020. That big win still eludes her.

You could say that Lippert is teetering on the verge of greatness and when you watch her in races, you can almost feel her determination to reach out and grasp it. She’s not scared to attack and risk it all, to grit her teeth and push her body to painful limits. At the World Championships in Wollongong, she was the only rider to put the star-studded Dutch team under pressure by slingshotting herself over the punchy climbs, becoming the instigator of what many people thought would be the winning breakaway. When no one would cooperate with her in the front group, Lippert shouted at the other riders to take turns on the front, and did the lion’s share of the work herself. Despite all of that, Lippert did not win the rainbow jersey. Instead, she finished in probably the most disappointing position in elite sport: fourth. She was within touching distance of a medal, but ultimately left Australia empty-handed.

Lippert is not prepared to sit in the shadow of the crown for much longer. Behind her sparkling eyes and smile is a simple and ruthless desire to win.

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