Kristen Faulkner signs with EF Education-Cannondale

‘At the end of the day, I just want to win with this team’

October 10, 2023

EF Education-Cannondale is proud to welcome Kristen Faulkner to the team.

The American has won stages at the Tour Féminin de l'Ardèche, the Ladies Tour of Norway, the Tour de Suisse, a pair of stages at the Giro d’Italia Donne, as well as the queen of the mountains competition at the Giro d’Italia Donne. She has also taken the bronze position on general classification at GP Plouay, Itzulia Women, the Ladies Tour of Norway, and the Tour de Suisse.

The 30-year-old excels in time trials, having placed sixth at her debut in the 2022 world championships in the event, but don’t make the mistake of pigeonholing her.

“I like to go solo,” Kristen says. “I like to work really hard. But I like to make it both a race and a game where it’s fun, it’s unpredictable and I can catch people off guard. I’m a rider who is time trial-heavy and very much an all-rounder with a penchant for attacking solo.”

Her versatility and drive to attack are part of what made team general manager Esra Tromp so keen to sign the American.

“One of her best assets is that she has no fear of racing aggressively,” Esra says. “We’ve seen riders in the peloton being afraid to find their limits and to try something different. It’s really refreshing with Kristen that she doesn’t have that fear and she has the courage to experiment with a new tactic or to try a new race. That says a lot about her.”

Kristen’s nonchalance when it comes to going against the grain comes in part from her newness to the sport.

“I question the status quo,” she says. “When I’m on a team and I say, ‘Why do we do this?’ and people say, ‘Well, it’s just how it’s done. It’s how we’ve always done things,’ I don’t accept that as a good enough answer. I challenge those assumptions and the status quo ways of doing things because I have no preconceived notions about how things should be. I just want to know that we’re doing something in the best way. I think sometimes people who grew up in the sport have been indoctrinated in certain ways of doing things and I bring a fresh perspective. It’s not that I don’t respect the status quo; systems usually exist for a reason. It’s more than I think learning is an iterative process and we have to be open to new ideas because the world is changing so fast and women’s cycling is changing even faster. We can’t assume that what’s worked in the past will work in the future.”

Growing up in Alaska, earning her undergraduate degree at Harvard, and then moving to New York City, all before she had ever considered bike racing, have certainly helped Kristen develop a fresh perspective on the peloton.

“I was working at a finance job in Manhattan when I was 24,” Kristen says. “I had been a rower in college and I was looking for a team. And so I went to this introductory women's clinic in Central Park with running shorts and a T-shirt and they taught us how to clip in and ride around cones. Later I did a beginners’ race. I thought, ‘Oh, this is kind of fun.’ And then I learned about all the strategy that was involved with cycling and how intellectual it is and I thought, ‘Oh, it's really fun!’”

Four years into her career as a professional racer, Kristen continues to be enthralled by the mental aspect of the sport.

“Cycling is both a race and a game,” she says. “I really like the game aspect of it where you can catch people off guard or find the right moments to attack. I try to be unpredictable. For me, that’s what makes it so much fun. I enjoy the chess game of cycling. I enjoy using my strengths to help my teammates as well. Sometimes I attack and make other teams chase so that my teammate can show up fresh to the finish line. Or I use my TT strengths to chase down a break. It’s like a game of poker where we can play different cards depending on how we think our competition will react, and that’s fun.”

For 2024, Kristen has two goals.

“I want to make the Olympics squad for the time trial and I want to become more of a GC rider,” she says. “I’ll probably go for results in races with a time trial. Depending on the race, I can see myself supporting the team or working on being a GC rider. I see myself as someone who can fill a lot of different roles. I don't have one distinct thing that I'm good at – I'm not a pure climber, I’m not a pure sprinter – and that gives me a lot of freedom to try different things. The team can use that to our advantage by using me to make the race unpredictable, someone who can win a race but in a very unpredictable way. But at the end of the day, I just want to win with this team.”

This summer, Kristen was hit by a driver while training in California, leaving her unable to race while her injuries healed. She returned to racing in September, having spent much of her recovery period with her family in Alaska.

“When I came back to racing, I felt like I had had a good break and now I’m really motivated going into next season. I feel fresh and excited,” Kristen says. “I also realized how much I love the sport. It can be hard. People can get burned out. But when I was away from cycling, I really missed it and I realized there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Despite the crash, my love for the sport, my passion for the sport, my motivation for the sport hasn’t changed at all. And that’s a really powerful feeling.”

With her motivation at an all-time high, the opportunity to sign with EF Education-Cannondale feels like a homecoming to her.

“The first reason I wanted to sign with the team was that I really wanted to go back to an American team,” Kristen says. “Being an American on an American team is important to me. The second reason is that I really aligned with the values of the sponsors, in particular with EF Education First being an education company. Education is something I deeply value. I’ve raced on Cannondales before and I love how they ride so it feels in some ways like I’m going back home. The final reason is the series of conversations I’ve had with the management. They talked to me as a person and not just a number and that was important to me going into the team. I also know some of the riders already and I’m excited to race with them.”

“I've never been this excited about a team before,” Kristen says. “And I like it. It's very genuine, like I really feel intrinsically excited. And that makes me really happy because I feel like that means I'm on the right team.”

We couldn’t agree more, Kristen. Welcome to the team!

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