AG Insurance – Soudal launches 2024 team at presentation in Brussels

AG Insurance – Soudal has marked a significant milestone in its history as it transitions from the Continental level to the prestigious Women’s World Tour, a testament to its exceptional performance in the 2023 season. The team publically announced its team for the 2024 season in a presentation in the offices of AG Insurance in Brussels today.

Speaking on behalf of AG Insurance, Jan Heyvaert expressed pride in the team’s growth and commitment to developing women’s cycling. The move to the World Tour reflects the team’s dedication to nurturing talent and achieving clear goals.

Luc Thys from Soudal echoed this sentiment, emphasising the alignment of values between the team and its sponsors. The partnership is built on mutual ambition and a shared vision for the future of women’s cycling.

Team manager Patrick Lefevere highlighted the importance of sponsor support in fostering the team’s growth and success. He emphasised the significance of collective efforts in propelling the sport forward and he will be key for securing future sponsorships for the team. General manager Natascha den Ouden stressed the importance of personal and professional growth for the riders. With a focus on development, the team aims to cultivate the next generation of cycling stars.

Sports director Servais Knaven acknowledged the team’s evolution from a development squad to a formidable force in professional cycling. He outlined the team’s goals for the season, emphasising a commitment to improvement and excellence. Jolien D’hoore, another sports director, praised the team’s cohesion and leadership, citing Ashleigh Moolman Pasio as a source of inspiration for the younger riders.

For Moolman Pasio, this season marks her final year in professional cycling. This time definitively so after a couple of close calls which saw her ultimately not actually retire. She expressed optimism and determination to make the most of her remaining time in the sport. Her goals this year are to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France Femmes and to win Fleche Wallonne after finishing in almost every spot in the top-10 except 1st. She said she has made some good progress this winter and is looking forward to the Ardennes as her first goal of the season.

Newcomer Julie Van de Velde shared her excitement about joining the team, emphasising the warm welcome and professional environment. She will be targeting the climbing races this season for the team. Last year’s Setmana Ciclista Valenciana winner Justine Ghekiere has inked a contract extension to the end of 2026, her deal was originally due to expire at the end of this season. She will be aiming for the Ardennes races and GC where possible behind Moolman-Pasio. The Belgian is likely to do the Giro d’Italia Women and the Tour de France Femmes this year. Another contract extension secured is that of Marthe Goossens, who will also remain on the team until 2026.

Santos Tour Down Under winner Sarah Gigante reflected on her positive experiences with AG Insurance – Soudal, highlighting the supportive team atmosphere and opportunities for growth. Her next races include Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Ardennes classics. The Aussie will definitely race the Vuelta but also has her eyes set on the Tour de France Femmes this season. She will be working with her original coach, something not possible at Movistar, and is aiming to improve her bunch positioning over the season.

Mauritius rider Kim Le Court has already shown her skills in Australia working for Gigante’s GC win. She will focus on classics coming up like Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Paris Roubaix Femmes and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. She wants to find her feet this year and find out what kind of road rider she really is after success on the mountain bike and is looking forward to many different races.

There is also encouraging news about Nicole Steigenga and her concussion recovery. She’s not quite back ready to race yet but can do 1 hour of light intensity but has to keep her HR under 150 bpm too. That in itself is progress from where she was a few weeks ago. Time will tell when she is back to race but she hopes to be racing in the 2nd half of 2024 at least.

Overall, AG Insurance – Soudal looks forward to a successful season ahead, with a focus on development, teamwork, and achieving excellence in women’s cycling.

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