AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step saw double success this weekend with both Noëlle Ruetschi of the U23 team and Fee Knaven of the U19 team winning their first podium places in their categories.
The junior team with Nela Kankovska, Fee Knaven, Luca Vierstraete and Nanoi Van Wettere travelled to the northeast of the Netherlands for the GP Anna van der Breggen. The weather made the race particularly hard, as a result of which only 40 of the 116 riders finished. Impressively, four AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step riders were part of that group with Fee finishing in third place to claim her first podium as a junior.
“Today was a lot less hectic than Gent-Wevelgem last week and I managed to position myself much better,” said Fee. “Luca, Nanoi and myself raced attentively at the front. It was a shame Nela was dropped. To be honest, the finish came sooner than I had expected so third was the best outcome. I am really happy about today and proud of the teamwork we showed.”
Noëlle Ruetschi represented a very strong U23 team in the Volta Limburg Classic. She raced alongside Eline van Rooijen, Fien Masure, Julia Kopecky, Maureen Arens and Julia Grégoire. In a strong field with WorldTour teams, they really showed themselves at the start, during the race and in the final. Noëlle rounded off the top teamwork with a strong third place and the first elite podium for the 18-year-old Swiss rider.
“It was a crazy day,” said Noëlle. “It was my first real race of the season and my first elite race at that. I didn’t have a real goal today apart from staying with the peloton as long as possible. We stayed well together with the team and counter attacked the moves. In the last local lap Lonneke attacked and I went with her and finished third. It’s crazy.”
The entire team rode incredibly strongly through both wind and rain. Eline countered an early attack by Fem van Empel and Fien also went on the attack to try and bridge across to the two leaders of SD Worx. Julia Kopecky could not be prouder of her teammates.
“It was so hard today with the wind and the rain,” Julia said. “The final laps the peloton rode really fast on the climbs and I had to give everything to stay with the group. SD Worx really made it a hard race but we managed to stay together and race as a team. When we caught the two SD Worx leaders, Bredewold of SD Worx attacked for the win. In the final lap Lonneke Uneken countered that move. I had just done an attack so it was perfect to see Noëlle go with Uneken. We stopped the chase with SD Worx. As a team we really raced well and I couldn’t be prouder of them all.”