Riding on a bike, whatever kind you have can be fun© Andrey Pronin/Red Bull Content Pool
Bike
Meet the new generation of riders freshening up the cycling scene
A new class of bike athletes are beginning to make their mark in the wider cycling world. Here's who to keep your eyes on with a view to future sporting success.
Written by Rajiv Desai
Published on
Part of this story

Hannah Bergemann

United StatesUnited States

Lara Lessmann

GermanyGermany

Valentina Höll

AustriaAustria

Laura Stigger

AustriaAustria

Saya Sakakibara

AustraliaAustralia

Sae Hatakeyama

JapanJapan

Liz Villegas

ColombiaColombia

Queen Villegas

ColombiaColombia

Rocío del Alba García Martínez

SpainSpain

Nikita Ducarroz

United StatesUnited States

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Reaching the top of a sport takes talent, hard work, guts and determination. A new generation of riders are beginning to make those journeys on two wheels. Whether it be racing up or downhill on dirt, tricking it up on a skatepark course or pumping their arms on a BMX track, these athletes are ready to make a name for themselves in their respective disciplines.

1. Vali Höll

  • Discipline: Mountain bike downhill
  • Cool fact: Vali landed her first sponsorship deal at the age of 13
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Vali could be downhill's most exciting rider of her generation
As one of downhill mountain bike racing's burgeoning talents Valentina 'Vali' Höll has received a lot of hype in recent years. The Austrian is yet to make her elite debut at the sport's premier series, the Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup, but her times as a junior hold up well against ladies her senior on the same tracks. Höll is expected to be contending for wins straight away when World Cup racing for the 2021 season gets underway in a few months time.
Bike · 10 min
Vali Höll

2. Hannah Bergemann

  • Discipline: Mountain bike freeride
  • Cool fact: As well as being quite handy on a bike, Hannah is also an accomplished skier and can ride rails on skis
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: If there is one rider who will push progression in women's riding than it is Hannah
Freeride is all about having fun on your bike but it's also about being unconventional. Hannah Bergemann is certainly that. The 24-year-old is a supreme bike-handler who is just at ease racing mountain bikes in pro-level enduro competitions as she is being upside down after lifting off on a dirt jump. Never one to stand still, Bergemann is keen to progress her riding abilities and being a freerider offers her the perfect creative outlet to show what she can do, as she did at the groundbreaking freeride camp, Formation. Bergemann has shown that with talent a female bike athlete can make a career outside the race tape.
Hannah Bergemann hits a jump at the Red Line Rally in Bend, Oregon on Sept 2, 2020.
Being free to ride is everything for Hannah Bergemann

3. Saya Sakakibara

  • Discipline: BMX race
  • Cool fact: Saya's brother Kai is also a pro BMX racer
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: At just 20, Saya is already mixing it up in Elite against more established BMX racers
BMX racing is fast, furious and full of high octane action so it takes a level head at times to succeed at the highest level. Saya Sakakibara has that quality. The Australian is already a three time World Champion in junior age-group racing (from 14 to 16 years old) and five time Australian National Champion. Being part Japanese, Sakakibara has an incredible following in Japan, which will definitely be an advantage when it comes to racing at the Games in Tokyo later on in 2021. As winner of the test event in Tokyo in 2019, Sakakibara goes into the summer as a favourite for a medal.
Saya Sakakibara poses for a portrait during the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships in Springdale, Arkansas, on October 13, 2018.
More podiums beckon for Saya Sakakibara

4. Laura Stigger

  • Discipline: Mountain bike cross-country
  • Cool fact: Laura attended a specialist sports school, Sportborg, in Austria's Tirol region in an effort to finish her education
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Laura will be racing in elite cross-country races despite being 20
When it comes to making first time impressions then Laura Stigger has quite the record. In her first elite races at the Mercedes-Benz UCI Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Cup in 2020 at Nové Město, the Austrian podiumed with two fifth places, as well as a third place in the second short track competition at the Czech venue. The former two-time junior cross-country world champion also won the junior World road race championship in 2018, her second ever race on the road. Mountain biking is Stigger's focus for now but a multi-disciplinary approach has never done Tom Pidcock or Pauline Ferrand-Prevot any harm.
Laura Stigger performs in Stellenbosch, South Africa on January 8, 2021.
Stigger is looking to reach new heights in the years to come

5. Lara Lessmann

  • Discipline: BMX freestyle
  • Cool fact: Lara has a fear of flying but that hasn't stopped her travelling the world to participate in contests
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Lara is the 3rd ranked BMX freestyler in the world
A driven ambition to succeed has so far characterised Lara Lessman's fledging BMX freestyle career. The German has worked hard to reach the top of her sport, making personal sacrifices on the way. A decision to move away from her family home to Berlin for better training facilities in 2017 paid dividends. Two UCI BMX Freestyle World Cup wins in Croatia and China followed, while the 20-year-old has a second and two fourth places at the only three UCI Urban Cycling World Championships that have taken place. Lessmann will be shooting for glory in Tokyo when BMX freestyle debuts as a discipline at the Games for the first time.
BMX · 4 min
Lara Lessmann - Berlin Skateparks

6. Rocio del Alba Garcia Martinez

  • Discipline: Mountain bike cross-country
  • Cool fact: As a junior, Rocio won national titles on the road, for cyclo-cross and in mountain biking
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Rocio is an up-and-coming U23 cross-country racer
Rocio del Alba Garcia Martinez is among a group of promising cross-country riders that have recently graduated from the U23 ranks and are now looking to make their mark in elite racing. Garcia Martinez is Spain's current national champion. A 10th place at the World Cup round in Lenzerheide in 2019 showed her promise which she backed up in 2020 with a 22nd at the World Championship in Leogang. There's much more to come from the young Spaniard in the years to come.
Rocío del Alba Garcia Martinez trains with her team members in Spain.
Garcia Martinez is one to watch in cross-country

7. Nikita Ducarroz

  • Discipline: BMX freestyle
  • Cool fact: Nikita has set up a mental health initiative called m1ndtricks where action sport athletes can share stories about their struggles
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Nikita has a goal to get more girls and women riding BMX
When it comes to to promoting women's participation in BMX freestyle there is no bigger voice than Nikita Ducarroz. The Swiss athlete with the American twang is super supportive of her fellow competitors and newcomers into the sport. Ducarroz is currently the 5th ranked rider in the UCI world rankings and her results show she's never far away from the podium when it comes to competitions. In 2019, she placed fifth at the UCI Urban World Championships and fourth overall during the World Cup series. A career highlight for Ducarroz was winning the 2020 BMX Simple Session contest.
Nikita Ducarroz rides at Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina on February 02, 2021.
Nikita Ducarroz is keen to promote women's BMX freestyle

8. Sae Hatakeyama

  • Discipline: BMX race
  • Cool fact: A stuffed rabbit called Piro-chan travels with her everywhere
  • Why this athlete should be on your radar: Sae is an outlier in the women's BMX race field with the potential to cause an upset
Sae Hatakeyama is Japan's great hope in BMX racing. Identified as a rider of promise from an early age, Hatakeyama won World Championship titles in age-group categories from 10 to 13 years old. Her ability to efficiently jump over the rollers that characterise BMX race courses proving to be an advantage. Hatakeyama finished the 2019 UCI BMX SX World Cup season as 12th overall after managing to get to the medal race rounds in Rock Hill (USA) and Santiago (Argentina) and is improving all the time.
Sae Hatakeyama poses for a portrait at the All Japan BMX Championship at Syuzenji City, Japan, on July 2, 2017.
Racing BMX is the sport Sae Hatakeyama was made for

9 & 10. Queensaray and Lizsurley Villegas

  • Discipline: BMX freestyle
  • Cool fact: The sisters are identical twins
  • Why these athletes should be on your radar: The Villegas girls are the future of BMX freestyle in the next few years
These sisters from Colombia are invariably grouped together as their careers in BMX freestyle has so far been a shared experience. Despite a lack of training infrastructure and resources back home both Queensaray and Lizsurley are making waves in the sport. With funding the two are now able to travel to competitions abroad, where riding with their peers in competition will only progress their own abilities and improve them. Representing Colombia at the Games in Paris in 2024 is their medium-term aim going on forward.
BMX · 15 min
Lizsurley and Queensaray: the jungle freestylers
Part of this story

Hannah Bergemann

United StatesUnited States

Lara Lessmann

GermanyGermany

Valentina Höll

AustriaAustria

Laura Stigger

AustriaAustria

Saya Sakakibara

AustraliaAustralia

Sae Hatakeyama

JapanJapan

Liz Villegas

ColombiaColombia

Queen Villegas

ColombiaColombia

Rocío del Alba García Martínez

SpainSpain

Nikita Ducarroz

United StatesUnited States

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