Get to know Noemi Rüegg

Our Swiss sprinter loves Taylor Swift, crochet, and her new air fryer

February 21, 2024

Noemi Rüegg is this spring’s revelation for EF Education-Cannondale.

The Swiss sprinter won our first-ever race, the Trofeo Felanitx-Colònia de Sant Jordi in Mallorca and backed it up with podium finishes at the Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx and a stage of the Setmana Ciclista Volta Femenina de la Comunitat Valenciana.

Meet Noemi in person and you might not guess that she thrives in the chaos of a bunch sprint and possesses such a mean kick. Before she became a professional bike racer, Noemi worked in a care home for disabled people. She is quiet and thoughtful, loves Taylor Swift and brings her crocheting to races.

Just don’t think that means she won’t throw her elbows out in the peloton.

Get to know Noemi Rüegg.

You have had a great start to the season, Noemi. What went into that?

I don’t think that any of us really expected to have such a brilliant start to the season, but I think it just happened because we are such a great group of girls and we get along so well with each other. The camps we have had brought us even closer together. At the December camp, we could already feel this really great atmosphere and now we are all just really motivated to go for each other. We love racing with each other and we trust each other. I think that is the most important thing. The camps we did really helped us to build that trust as a team.

What goes through your mind during the final kilometer of a race?

Mentally, you have to be really focused and know exactly what is coming in the finish. I’ll recon the roads before the race in VeloViewer to know what is coming in terms of corners and roundabouts and discuss with the team which side will be the best side to take, depending on the wind. We go in with a leadout plan, and then in the race it is always a lot more chaotic than you planned for. You tighten your shoes quickly, you grab your handlebars on the drops, and then you just go with the flow. I try to hold a very good position and make use of the other teams, so I don’t have to go into the wind too early. Positioning is really important in a sprint. And then you just have to trust your feeling for when it is the right moment to go and go. It rarely goes perfectly, but that is also what makes it really special. You have to be improvising the whole time and going with the flow.

What kind of training do you do to be fast in a sprint?

This winter, I went a bit more to the gym and I think that helped me to build more strength. I do a lot of squats and a lot of jumps as well and combinations of these exercises after each other. That makes the legs burn. And then I do strength on the bike, basically just going to the climb and then putting it into a really big gear with a low cadence of around 50 to 60 and pushing up the hill for around five minutes. And then I do some specific sprint training, mostly at the end of my longer rides, like in the last hour, when I am already a bit fatigued, so it is like at the end of the race.

Do you win all the town-sign sprints when you are training with your teammates?

Even if we are riding in a group, that’s not something I normally like to do. And obviously when I am back home alone, there is nobody I can sprint against. But I do enjoy it when we are at camps. It is funny. I would say that Alison is really good at it. And Mags is really into it too. She is really attentive.

What do you like to do to relax?

Off the bike, I really like to spend time in the kitchen. I love cooking and baking, meeting up with friends and inviting them for dinner, just having a good time with each other. That is something really relaxing for me, just to keep the mental balance. I recently got an air fryer. Mags also loves air fryers and she kept telling me I need an air fryer in my life, and now I actually have got one and I really like cooking with it. I love sweet potatoes and the sweet potatoes in the air fryer are really super good. But I always want to do something. I can’t really spend a day on the couch. But if it needs to happen then maybe I’ll watch a movie in the evening or something.

What music do you like to listen to?

Taylor Swift. I am really a big fan of Taylor Swift, but there is also a Swiss band called Hecht and I absolutely love them. I went to a concert last off season and it was really, really nice, but Taylor Swift; there is always a reason to listen to her. Otherwise I’ll listen to a bit of pop, what is in the charts, a bit of everything.

What are your favorite holidays?

We always used to go to Italy, to Sardinia with the camper with our family. We went there like two times a year. That was our holiday place and we always just had the best time on a campsite close to the sea, so we could spend the whole day playing in the sea. My brothers did some kitesurfing as well. I also tried that but was not really good at it. But I remember these were the best holidays: camping with the family at the sea.

Do you like other sports?

Yes, I did some athletics before I came to cycling, but more just as a hobby, as fun, and then I changed to cycling. I do some ski touring and cross-country skiing when it is possible in the winter. I got a few days in this year. For the mind it is just so nice. I really love it. It is just so peaceful when you are going up a mountain. You just get into this really nice rhythm, walking up there with the skis. It’s just you and nature actually. We’ll go really early so you can see the sun rise. It’s so beautiful, seeing the sun rise from on top of the mountains. It is really next level, just the peace of the mountains.

What’s your favorite climb on the bike?

My favorite climb is the Albulapass in Switzerland. It is a really long climb. You start in a little valley and then you go more and more up and over the trees. It is a real experience. There is always a story when you climb up this pass and it never gets boring. It’s beautiful scenery. It was one of the first big climbs I did with my dad when I started cycling and that will always be a special memory for me.

Who are your role models?

In sports, I don’t really have a big idol. When I was younger, it was always Usain Bolt. He was my big idol.

I do read a lot of biographies. For me, those are the most exciting books. I don’t like fantasy. If I read, I also want to learn something or just get to know somebody. There is one Swiss freeskier. His name is Andre Ragletti, and he is doing really crazy things and he recently launched a book that is really inspiring.

But actually my dad is quite a role model. I really look up to him. I feel like he really has his life under control. He knows what he is doing and I really admire him for everything he is doing and everything he has done for us. He is a big role model in my life. He used to be a cyclist as well, but now he runs his own company, outfitting vehicles. A carpenter, for example, will have their cars and then they have all of their boxes with their materials that they need. My dad’s company will put all of this equipment in, cupboards and boxes, organizers. They have started working on campers as well, turning cars into campers, but are more focused on work vehicles.

Are you crafty as well?

Yes. I recently started crocheting and also like making bracelets with little beads. I am more into that kind of thing than making big things. I actually wanted to take my crocheting to the races, just to be able to think of something else, but I only took the wool with me and I forgot the needles, so then I couldn’t do it. Right now, I am doing washcloths and will bring those to the classics.

How did you get into bike racing?

I started with my brother and my father. My dad used to be a cyclist as well when he was younger, just on the amateur level, and then my brother got into it because of him. My dad led the mountain bike practices at our cycling club, and I always went, more just to please him, but not really because I enjoyed it. I quit for a while. But then there was this point where I had to change schools and I had to start going by bike, and actually since that day, I just completely fell in love with it. I just enjoyed riding my bike so much. I started going longer ways back home and would go on some small adventures on the way back from school. Because my brother was already racing at that time, we watched his races every weekend as a family and then I decided to try it out myself and I completely fell in love with it. It was a cyclocross race, my first race. That was how I started.

Tell us about your road to the pros.

Actually, I never had this big dream of turning pro. I think it just unfolded naturally. When I started, I just really had fun on my bike and didn’t really think too far ahead about what I wanted to achieve. I just rode my bike and that led me to where I am now. I always had such good support from my family and good coaches for bigger races on the national team and always kept having fun. When I finished my apprenticeship, I knew okay now I have to decide if I want to do this more professionally, so I stopped, not completely, with working, but just worked part time and focused more on cycling. Then, I got my first contract and at that moment knew that this is what I want to do for a living.

What were you doing for your apprenticeship?

I was a careworker in a home for people with disabilities. I always really loved helping people and making people smile. I just really am into helping people. I really am a people person. My mom used to work in that area as well when she was younger and she told me all about it, all of these stories, so I went to see for a few days if it would be something for me and I really loved working with these people and just helping them get better in their daily lives, with all of the little things. It filled me with a lot of love and gratitude.

As a racer, you often have to be very focused on yourself. Is that something you struggle with?

Yeah, actually I do struggle with that a lot. I am a person who always wants to please everyone and set others higher than myself, so then in the race I am not the one who would naturally push everyone away and scream at them. I am more like the calm and kind and lovely rider in the bunch. I had to really switch that as well and realize that in the peloton I can put my elbows out and be a bit more aggressive. I find that quite difficult. Your role in the race compared to your role as a normal person can be so different. You can be a totally different person off the bike to what you are on the bike. But I hope I can still bring people a lot of joy. Off the bike too and within the team.

You already do, Noemi. Thank you.

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