AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step had two teams racing stage races this past week: the elite team at Thüringen Rundfahrt and the U23s at Tour Feminin in the Czech Republic. There were lessons learned and top ten places for Romy Kasper, Marthe Goossens, Mirre Knaven, Febe Jooris and Czech home rider Julia Kopecky.
Kopecky excelled in the four-day stage race in the Czech Republic with three podium places. She was, however, hoping for a win, but the number one spot just eluded her.
“The final day was the hardest day,” said Julia looking back upon the four days. “I had to swap bikes on this really hilly stage, but Febe was with me straight away and Mirre helped me on the final lap. I am sure I could never have done this without Febe, Mirre, Maureen, Eline and Noëlle. They were always with me throughout the four stages. Of course, I would have loved to win a stage, but two second places and a third place as a first-year elite rider is a good result. I also loved racing in the Czech Republic again, because I was cheered on a lot and that was really motivating.”
Sports director Christian Kos saw a strong development team in this UCI 2.2 stage race that started with a time trial.
“With Julia in second and Febe in sixth it was a good start,” said Christian. “We did have some bad luck throughout the week with mechanicals for Febe early on where she lost her good position and on the last stage with Mirre too. I believe she could have sprinted for the win. We missed the cut for a good classification on day two, but on the other days we were always at the front. Julia finishes on the podium three times which is a real strong performance.”
In the Thüringen Rundfahrt, Julia Borgström, Marthe Goossens, Ally Wollaston, Maaike Boogaard, Ilse Pluimers and home rider Romy Kasper were fifth on the opening day team time trial. Sadly, Ally and Maaike had to abandon, leaving four riders to try and beat a dominant Team SD Worx.
“It was a nice week with the girls, but it was a shame we lost Ally and Maaike. They could have made it an even better week and fight for general classification,” Romy said. “We committed to the race every day. On one side we tried to keep our position in the GC and on the other to go for stages. On the decisive day for the GC Julia and I were in the first group. We went for sprints with Marthe but SD Worx were just too strong. We managed to be in the race and really be part of the action. We did the team colours proud.”
Marthe continued her good streak of results with a 5th, 6th and 8th place in the sprints. Romy rode to a 6th and 9th place on the stages and tenth overall. She raced her 14th Thüringen Rundfahrt which is a special race to her.
“Racing at home is always nice, especially being there with my own team and showing them my home area. It’s great with the German fans and with my parents there too. I was surprised with a top ten in the overall which was my best result in Thüringen ever. My shape is there for Lotto Belgium Tour and the national championships.”