Lizzie Stannard joins EF Education-Cannondale
The talented ex-triathlete is looking forward to the best bike leg of her career
Lizzie Stannard is glad she chose cycling.
The 26-year-old former triathlete from Australia has just signed a pro contract with EF Education-Cannondale.
Lizzie started out swimming, biking, and running back in New Zealand, where she grew up. Before long, she was racing world cups. As a triathlete, Lizzie raced three world championships, but cycling was always the sport she loved most.
Lizzie’s mom and dad were both bike racers. They met on the Australian circuit, riding local road races and crits. They moved across the Tasman Sea when Lizzie was little, as her dad got a job at a university in New Zealand. He was a professor of human performance, but quit to open a café with Lizzie’s mum, a civil engineer.
So Lizzie had the best coaching from the start. When she was a kid, that just meant having fun outdoors.
“Growing up, we used to do a lot of mountain biking, but every sport under the sun really,” Lizzie says. “And then I did some triathlons for a while at high school, and kept at it after high school.”
Racing is what Lizzie loved. That was one of her frustrations with triathlon; she didn’t get to race very much. For weeks at a time, she would be training alone. She was one of the best young triathletes in the world, but often found that she had to figure everything out alone: fix her own bike, arrange her own travel, find local swimming pools, etc. That got hard.
Training for three sports all the time was hard on her body too. At the time, Lizzie was spending long hours in the library, finishing up her politics degree at Massey University. She suffered some injuries and got sick and just wasn’t having much fun racing triathlon anymore. So she decided to give up running and swimming, but not cycling. She’d never give up cycling. Riding bikes was fun.
Lizzie and a friend decided to go on a road trip to Canada and the United States for two months. They would travel around and race everywhere they could, be it a UCI race with the pros or a local crit. The first big race Lizzie did was the Gatineau Grand Prix. After that one, she was hooked.
“I had such a great experience there. I stayed with the family of the organizer, John Large. They gave me the key to their house. They were great people. He would bake sourdough bread every morning. It was incredible, just a wonderful welcome to the sport. His sourdough bread played an integral role in my trajectory as an aspiring professional cyclist.”
After two months of racing, it was time for Lizzie to go home. Back in New Zealand, she was working in her parents’ café, wondering what to do with her life. Should she go to grad school? Should she try to get a corporate job? Then, an Aussie road team asked if she wanted to come race with them. Lizzie's future as an athlete started to take shape.
“One of my friends was like, ‘Hey! I have this apartment in Melbourne. Do you want to come stay in my apartment?’” Lizzie says. “And I was like, ‘Yeah! I don’t want to live at home anymore.’ So, I moved to Melbourne and got half a job and kept racing.”
During COVID, there wasn’t much racing to be done in Australia though. Lizzie decided she needed to get to Europe. Time is short in sports and she wanted a chance to prove herself against the best in the world. She’d do whatever it would take. She got in touch with an Italian team.
“They were like, ‘We will pay you €500 a month if you move to Italy,’” Lizzie laughs. ‘And I was like, ‘Okay!’ At that point, you still had to ask for permission to leave Australia, and the authorities were like, ‘When are you coming back?’ I said, ‘Never!’ And then I came to Europe and lived in Italy, and the rest is history.”
It was not always easy racing abroad. Lizzie learned a ton from her Italian team and had some very strong and experienced teammates. Just a few weeks after she joined, one of her teammates actually became world champion. But Lizzie was living all alone in a team house in a small Italian town. She got lonely, but kept going and earned some good results. For the next year, she decided to move to Girona. That was the best move she has ever made. From then on, Lizzie has never looked back.
“There is always someone to do something with here, and I think I really needed that,” she says. “If I was going to continue, I needed to be somewhere where there were other people. Last year was really lonely, and Girona is the opposite of that.”
In the Catalan cycling mecca, Lizzie has made great friends. She loves riding with them through the hills and mountains near the city. All that riding has shown in her performances. In 2022, she won the Euganissima Flandres and finished seventh overall at the Giro Toscana Int. Femminile. This year, she finished second on a stage at the Vuelta Andalucia Ruta del Sol and tenth overall at the ReVolta, while riding the second most race days of any rider in the women’s peloton. Lizzie is determined to keep getting better.
“There is still so much that I have to learn,” she says. “I can be pretty dynamic. I can do a grand tour; I actually rode all three this year. I can do the classic races. I love the Ardennes. But I want to keep learning.”
That is the major reason why Lizzie wanted to join EF Education-Cannondale. She will be able to learn from the experts who already work for the team.
“I want to be able to capitalize on all of the resources I will have available and the people that I will be able to work with and learn as much as possible to be able to continue my development as an athlete. I am also really excited to work with Esra Tromp and have a woman in charge. There are not that many women’s teams that have a woman in charge, funnily enough.”
EF Education-Cannondale general manager Esra Tromp is also really excited to work with Lizzie. She is impressed by her power and her positive attitude.
“Lizzie is still a little bit newer to the sport, as she comes from triathlon,” Esra says. “She is really a strong rider, who can, of course, still develop in a few things. I think she will learn a lot from Coryn and Alison and Lotta, riders who have a lot of experience racing in finales. She is so strong. It is going to be interesting to help her develop her time trial in the next coming years and see what she can do in the classics. She brings a great mentality to the team.”
Lizzie does. Off the bike, her hunger for knowledge and adventure will make a great contribution to our new squad too. She is always reading and looking for the next place to visit. Next up is Switzerland for some off-season hiking with a friend, before she heads home to Australia and New Zealand for summer in the southern hemisphere. Lizzie is looking forward to that. She might even run a bit and swim a bit, before she gets back on her bike and starts training for the 2024 season with EF Education-Cannondale.
Welcome to the team, Lizzie Stannard!