Cyclist Pfeiffer Georgi seems destined to conquer her sport, but her eye-catching ascendency has not come without turmoil.
Her world was turned upside down in 2020 when she fractured two vertebrae in her back in a major crash at the Brugge-De Panne Classic.
During a gruelling recovery period, she could only watch on as an unranked Austrian, Anna Kiesenhofer, claimed gold in the women’s road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Just over three years later, and now a two-time British national champion, Georgi is forging a determined path to success.
The 23-year-old now seeks to secure her place in Great Britain’s squad for the Paris Olympics, in a bid to follow in the footsteps of her idols.
Georgi said: “Lizzie [Deignan] has always been a hero of mine.
“I remember when I was 11 years old watching her win silver in London.
“That really inspired me.
“If I could win a medal at the Olympics, that would be one of my career highlights – hands down.”
Destined for the bike
From Lizzie Deignan to Chris Hoy, British success on the track has been a bankable feature in recent times, and the story of Pfeiffer Georgi appeared to be no different.
It was a seemingly straightforward route into cycling for Georgi, whose early life was spent just a few minutes away from Herne Hill Velodrome in South London.
Reflecting on an early memory at the velodrome, she vividly recalled her four-year-old self descending down the back straight.
With fatigue setting in, the young Georgi stopped pedalling – a critical misstep on a track bike which forced her over the handlebars.
She said: “I remember being covered in cuts and telling my dad I was never coming back.
“Of course, I was back within a week.”
A season to remember
After negotiating times of hardship and unrest, Georgi is now enjoying the fruits of her labour, recording success after success.
She claimed: “For me, 2023 was the best season that I’ve had so far, and the team for that matter.
“We really stepped up, especially as a young team.
“Personally, getting my first World Tour victory in the Spring Classics was a big highlight.”
It was only fitting that she claimed her first Classics win at the Brugge-De Panne by righting the wrongs that were once synonymous with the race.
After falling agonisingly short in 2022, Georgi bounced back to reclaim the national champs jersey and with that, the title of Britain’s No.1 road race cyclist.
An impressive fourth-placed finish in the European Road Championships is also sure to make a feature in her season highlight reel.
Roll on the Paris Olympics
Georgi reiterated that there remained question marks over selection for Team GB’s squad at the Paris Games this summer.
She said: “I’m still really uncertain about selection and that doesn’t come until June.
“Up until then it’s just about doing the best I can and putting myself in the best position to be selected.
“Nevertheless, that would be a massive dream to go to the Olympics and race in Paris.”
Despite her concern, Georgi will be in strong contention for a place in the squad after rising to No.10 in the UCI world rankings.
After an imposing 2023 season, Georgi’s aspirations for an Olympic medal come at an apt time in her young career.
Team DSM, based in the Netherlands and competing on the UCI Women’s World Tour, has been the cyclist’s home since she was snapped up as a junior prospect in 2017.
She said: “I came at 18 so they’ve taught me everything I now know about women’s elite cycling.
“They have had a lot of confidence in me and this has helped me develop as a rider and see what kind of rider I was going to turn into.
“They’ve always had faith in me and I am super happy here.”
Last year Georgi blossomed into an elite cycling star and, at 23, even took on a leadership role within the team.
The faith shown in her by her peers, as well as the resurgence from her crash, is attributed to her success.
She said: “The crash taught me a lot.
“Throughout my recovery I had to do a lot of work with a mental coach on regaining my confidence in the bunch.
“It wasn’t a pleasant experience but you can always learn from these types of times in your life.
“I had quite a serious injury and I was able to come back stronger.”
Outside of the Paris Olympics, Georgi has targeted strong finishes in the Flanders and Roubaix Classics, with the aim of upping the ante.
She added: “This year we are trying to set our expectations a little bit higher than last year.
“Last year, we didn’t really know where I was going to be at and it went well, so I think we can try and be ambitious and win some big races.
“This year we’re ready.”
Featured image credit: El Toro Media