The AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step elite, U23 and U19 teams all scored great results this weekend. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio stepped onto the final podium of the Vuelta a Burgos, a Women’s WorldTour stage race. Marthe Goossens and Eline van Rooijen were just short of the podium in Antwerp Port Epic and Veenendaal-Veenendaal and junior Lore De Schepper sprinted to an eighth place in the Tour of Flanders.
The first race of the weekend was Veenendaal-Veenendaal for the U23 team on Friday. After some top-notch sprint lead-out work, Eline van Rooijen managed a fifth place in a strong field of WorldTour riders.
“It was a hectic race,” Eline said. “We raced well together at the front and felt in control. There wasn’t enough wind to create splits and the headwind back to the finish didn’t encourage attacking. So, we went for that sprint. Maureen [Arens], Julia [Kopecky] and Mirre [Knaven] were with me and did great work. Julia had the wheel of Lotte Kopecky and Mirre brought me there. It is nice to be fifth in a strong field, but we race for the win of course. It was great to see how much respect we get in this field as a development team. They don’t underestimate us and that is pretty cool.”
In Sunday’s Antwerp Port Epic, Britt Knaven launched an all-or nothing attack which was very promising, until a flat tyre sadly ended her hopes of her first pro win.
“I am completely empty now,” Britt admitted afterwards. “It was a hard race and I didn’t feel super strong at the start, but really started to feel better once the race progressed. The team was super strong on a really fun course with gravel and cobbles. When the pace in the first group dropped, I felt it was the moment to attack. Marthe [Goossens] and Maud [Rijnbeek] were there to protect my attack. My tyre was a bit flat but I was also completely empty at the end. I look back at today with a good feeling, because as a team we did everything we could.”
Marthe finished in fourth place, just a centimetre off the podium. Britt was seventh and Maud eighth in this one-day race with gravel and cobbles.
“The sprint was one of four dying swans, as we say in Flanders,” Marthe reacted. “I wasn’t boxed in or something. I just didn’t have anything left. It was the first time I was in the situation to sprint for the win so I was also nervous. This is a learning experience so onwards from here.”
In Belgium, the team’s juniors raced the Tour of Flanders, where Lore De Schepper got herself an eighth place and Fee Knaven finished just outside of the top ten. Laia Bosch became Catalan time trial champion.
The final top result was in Vuelta a Burgos, where Ashleigh Moolman Pasio finished third in the general classification of this Women’s WorldTour stage race.
“The team was incredible as always,” praised Ashleigh. “The girls gave their absolute best, each of everyone of them. We earn the respect of other teams and we keep growing every race. They motivate me to work hard because they work hard and are so dedicated to me. We had hoped for a little more. The final climb didn’t have the steep gradients, so it was better suited to the power riders, but I am content though. I now know where I have to put in the work for the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. I am motivated for that final preparation for this big goal!”