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Natascha Den Ouden Shares Insights Following Departure from AG Insurance-Soudal

In a candid conversation with NOS, Natascha Den Ouden opens up about her recent departure from AG Insurance-Soudal, a team she founded in 2018 and nurtured into a prominent force in women’s cycling. The move, made in mutual agreement, coincides with significant new investments into the team, highlighting a pivotal moment for the organisation. AG Insurance now holds a 76% stake, while Decolef, linked to Patrick Lefevere of the acclaimed men’s team Soudal-QuickStep, owns the remaining share.

Den Ouden’s exit has sparked discussions, given her pivotal role in the team’s ascent. She attributes her departure to a fundamental clash in vision and perspective, emphasising the importance of a balanced approach that values personal growth alongside athletic success. Reflecting on her tenure, Den Ouden recalls a meaningful exchange with rider Rozemarijn Ammerlaan, which exemplifies her holistic outlook on athlete development.

Under Den Ouden’s leadership, the team celebrated significant achievements, including victories in the Tour Down Under, showcasing the efficacy of her patient and supportive management style. However, she expresses concerns over the current trajectory of women’s cycling, particularly the trend towards significant financial investments in a handful of top athletes. Den Ouden advocates for a grassroots approach to development, focusing on expanding the talent pool rather than mirroring the financial strategies prevalent in men’s cycling.

Den Ouden’s vision for a more equitable and sustainable future in women’s cycling remains undiminished despite her departure. She leaves behind a legacy of thoughtful leadership and a commitment to nurturing the next generation of talent.