AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step’s team riders are eagerly awaiting the start of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift this weekend. The two female CEOs from both the team and the sponsors are looking ahead to the biggest race of the year.
“We look at the Tour de France Femmes completely differently this year,” said Heidi Delobelle, CEO of AG Insurance. “Last year, we started with the youngest team because we were still a development team with only U23 riders. For most riders it was the first major stage race in their career.
This year is different, as we will see young talents and very experienced riders at the start in the colours of AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step. We have fast sprinters and strong climbers. The sports directors are also clearly aiming higher than last year. Our leader Ashleigh Moolman Pasio does not hide her ambitions. She’s aiming for the podium! I am convinced that all the ingredients are there to make it a fantastic week and who knows, to give us a surprise.”
Delobelle will be encouraging the riders from the flanks of the Tourmalet. Natascha den Ouden, team manager since the original launch of the team, will of course be there from the start of the 8-stage race at Clermont-Ferrand. She shares Delobelle’s opinion and sees the great changes that have taken place since 2022.
“Last year, our highlight was Julia wearing the white jersey, but this year the ambitions are bigger,” Natascha said. “Julia does represent the journey we have made as a team. In 2019, the first year as Rogelli-Gyproc-APB, everything was new. We were the first development team in the women’s peloton and learning was at the forefront of everything. Even then, we were able to offer our riders a wonderful program because we saw that the organisers believed in us. We got to ride the first Paris-Roubaix and last year we got a wildcard for the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
The growth is fast, but we also saw that a team with only U23-riders alone did not work. We still have that team of U23-riders and also our junior-women, but above that now stands an elite team. We have recruited experienced riders who have already taken our entire team to a higher level this year. Both our own talents and new riders that we have scouted, such as Mireia Benito and Justine Ghekiere, are making enormous progress. We won ten races and had no less than 16 national titles in the three teams, including three in the elite squad. Mireia herself surprised friend and foe with a Spanish time trial title and Justine back in February with the overall victory in Valencia.
Now we are at the start of a second Tour with completely different expectations, but with the same passion for women’s cycling and the same vision about developing young and not so young talent. It started in 2019 at the base and it is still the foundation where it all begins. I am convinced that our riders from the Tour de France will greatly inspire their teammates in the U23 and junior team.”
AG INSURANCE – SOUDAL QUICK-STEP TO THE TOUR DE FRANCE FEMMES AVEC ZWIFT
Riders: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Justine Ghekiere, Maaike Boogaard, Julia Borgström, Lotta Henttala, Romy Kasper and Mireia Benito
Sports directors: Servais Knaven and Jolien D’hoore
Soigneurs: Peter Vermeren, Thierry Lampaert and Bart Verholen
Mechanics: Sanne Geeroms and Tri Van Petegem
Team doctor: Sophie van Bakel
Physiotherapist: Jessica Van Melkebeke
Press officer: Emelyne Asselman
Content manager: Brent Peeters
Drivers: Rien Dictus. Kristof Muys and Nick Demeulemeester
General support: Natascha den Ouden and Rudi Dubois