Human Powered Health tackling the classics

Gearing up for Flanders and Roubaix

With the cobbled classic season already underway, cycling fans don’t have long to wait before we get to enjoy watching the strongest riders in the world take on the Hellingen or cobbled bergs of Flanders and the kinderkopf cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. Factor-sponsored Human Powered Health has a stacked team ready to tackle these important objectives of the spring racing calendar. 

“From December everyone has personal goals, and my goal has always been to arrive at this period very fit,” explained Audrey Cordon-Ragot. “I think if you train hard and you do everything correctly, then it can only pay off. I really believe in that even if it’s faster and faster every year.”

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook & Getty Sport

The team has had a strong start to the season with top performances at the Santos Tour Down Under before returning to Europe where Human Powered Health sprinters Lily Williams and Daria Pikulik kicked off the northern classics campaign with a pair of podium finishes. Lily took 3rd place at Danilith Nokere Koerse Women and Daria scored 3rd in the WorldTour Classic Brugge-De Panne.

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook

Communication is key

Strong team cohesion and confidence in each other is key. “Seeing Daria get onto a WorldTour podium like La Panne. I was commentating for Eurosport on that day, and I just got so emotional for her, for the team,” Audrey said. “And you know it’s the good atmosphere we have in the team that makes getting these results possible. It helps us perform well. It’s just a good mix of everyone being honest on the day and being able to say “I feel good” or “I don’t feel good” and to sacrifice for each other. You don’t see that in every team, and it’s something that is very positive.”

Just in her second year at the Women’s WorldTour level, Daria Pikulik has already found a lot of success. In 2023 she won six races including a stage at the Santos Tour Down Under and the Tour of Guangxi, both of which are WorldTour races. “Yes, 2023 was a successful season for me but it was also my first season in the WorldTour, so I raced much more and in bigger races,” Daria explained. “There were a lot of changes for me. I also crashed a lot because I didn’t know the courses that well.”

Learning to negotiate the inner workings of the peloton is an important lesson for every young rider. Daria may have a head start, though, since she is lucky enough to have an experienced pro like Audrey Cordon-Ragot on her side. “It’s part of my character; I like when things are going smoothly, and everyone respects everyone. I think many younger riders on some of the other teams don’t give too much attention to the older riders,” Audrey said.

“But I think I can be more of a mentor on my own team, so in the races I try to give good advice to help them grow. A rider like Daria Pikulik is only in her second year at the World Tour level. She is really listening and really interested to learn how she should act, how she should react, how she should read the race. I like to work with people who are listening and paying attention to what you say.”

This level of teamwork and honesty among the riders is something that Daria sees as a combined strength and asset for her continued growth: “For the rest of the upcoming classics on my calendar, the goal will be to help my teammates and to have many good experiences in the races so that I have a chance to know them better and to learn. I’m still quite new to the elite peloton, so I am just really happy to be able to be there.”

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook

All lights are green

With Gent-Wevelgem already in the legs, Audrey and the rest of the team have a good idea of where their form sits ahead of the biggest cobbled races of the season. “At Gent-Wevelgem, I was quite happy that I could finish with the front group with a chance to ride for the win, but obviously a bit disappointed about my sprint because normally I’m quite fast in a sprint after such a hard race,” Audrey explained. 


“But I couldn’t find my way to the front where I could open-up my sprint. I couldn’t ever really start my sprint because I was just in the middle of the washer machine and just trying to reach the finish line. I was a bit disappointed about that. But now that I take a little bit more perspective on my day, I think my shape is improving, and I always said that I really want to be in shape for Flanders and Roubaix, so I can see that I am getting better day after day, which was the plan. So, all the lights are on green at the moment. And I am just hoping to be even better for Roubaix.”

With the confidence-building podium at De Panne so recent, Daria also is looking to keep the positive momentum with the team. “I didn’t start the March races the way I wanted since I had a crash and so needed to skip some races because of a slight concussion, so to come back and finish on the podium at De Panne is something I can be really proud of,” she said. “At Gent-Wevelgem, I think we can be quite happy about how it went. We did what we planned to do and had the chance to continue learning from each other and working together well. On a personal level, I was very happy to finish the race without crashing. It was actually my longest ride ever, but maybe I was also a little disappointed about my legs. But I need to understand that I haven’t had a lot of race days this year, so I still need some time to open-up my legs.”

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook

Enhanced ambitions

With such a strong squad, Human Powered Health is not just looking to show up to the most important races. They are realistically aiming for the top step of the podium. “In the past, we have had races that, just getting to the start line felt like a win. Now, with our team, a win is clearly defined as coming across the finish line in first place ahead of everyone else and standing on the top step of the podium,” Directeur Sportif Clark Sheehan explained. “Our plan is to take this labyrinth of a game called bicycle racing, and break it down into smaller, realistic attainable goals with our step-by-step approach to the top step of the podium.”

The 2024 season has been noteworthy by the fact that there has not been one dominant super-team as in years past. Rather multiple squads have been sharing the spoils, which results in extremely entertaining racing. “I’ve done Gent-Wevelgem so many times and the other races so many times, and now I’m seeing with Strava that I am getting my personal records on segments that I’ve already done many times in the past,” Audrey explained.


“We are riding faster than ever because instead of having two teams able to ride fast, we have 15 teams able to ride fast. I still believe that I can have some good results at this level. That’s the reason I am waking up every morning. I keep believing. And the most important is that the team is still believing in me as well, so that all makes the right recipe for getting results.

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook 

Material improvement

This is Factor’s first season sponsoring Human Powered Health, a strong WorldTour team well-balanced with experienced riders as well as young up-and-coming talents. Helping them find greater success helps drive our product development. “When the management said that we’d ride Factor, we were all like “oh wow, that’s such a great thing for the team.” For sure it’s going to bring even more results because we felt last year that that was maybe one of the parts of the team that could be improved,” Audrey said. “And definitely now we have no excuses anymore because OSTRO VAM is so awesome.”

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook

The new generation OSTRO VAM has already had the chance to prove itself on the flats and in the mountains, but now the cobbled classics will be the proving ground. “The bikes we are using truly must be one of the fastest in the peloton this year,” DS Clark Sheehan said. “We did some tests with it on the cobbles; let’s just say we are very pleased with the performance.” The riders are equally enthusiastic. “I really love the new Factor OSTRO,” Daria explained. “I feel different on this bike. I think also on cobbles it’s faster. I feel so much more confident on this bike.”  


Since the team started the year on the first generation OSTRO and then shortly afterwards switched to the second generation OSTRO VAM, they had a unique opportunity to test the bikes back-to-back. 

“As soon as we took it on the first training camp, we were all impressed with how good the bike is. I come from other teams that have also had very good bikes so I could really feel that we’ve reached the top,” Audrey said. “As for the new one, I was one of the first to have it. It’s even better. I was like, wow! I could feel it straight away in the Valencia race, which is a hilly stage race. It was fast, light, really reactive, and responding very well. I was really looking forward to trying it on the cobbles, and its performance on pavé has been quite positive. We are all super excited. We like the look of it because the paint job is also very nice. I’m just so happy to ride it. And so proud, too, to ride it knowing that we look good.”

Photo credit: Oskar Scarsbrook

Follow them to keep up to date with their season progress and race updates:

Human Powered Health Cycling / Official website