AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step signalled their intent to join the Women’s WorldTour as soon as possible with their ultimately unsuccessful application this season. They’ve made some strong signings over the off-season, both on the bike and behind the scenes in order to make sure they qualify for the WWT at the end of the 2023 season. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is the landmark signing and gives the teams a new GC threat to go with the sprinting abilities of Ally Wollaston.
The latest addition has been Servais Knaven who previously spent 12 years as a director sportif at Ineos Grenadiers/Team Sky. His work there includes 8 grand tour victories by the likes of Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. He will take up the role of sports and technical manager at AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-step, the team run by his wife Natascha Knaven-den Ouden and includes his daughters Britt, Senne, Mirre and Fee. For Servais Knaven, it’s another chance to work under the umbrella of Patrick Lefevere. Knaven took Quick-step men’s team first ever victory in 2003.
The team’s 2023 outlook is one of change. Originally one team, they now have a full pathway structure in place with a Juniors/U19 team, a Promises/U23 team and the Elite team which they’d like to see join the Women’s WorldTour. All in all, AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step has 16 Elite riders, 12 U23 riders and 9 U19 riders.
“The opportunity to make the switch to AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step came at the right moment for me. Women’s cycling is in constant motion and therefore very important to me as it is an interesting place to continue my career. There is still so much to discover and develop. There is a lot of challenge there for me. We can take very big steps as a team.
The world is changing rapidly in our sport. As a team, we want to give the riders of today and the future the opportunity to develop their full potential. That’s about young talents such as Febe Jooris who has already proven herself as a junior – an unpolished talent such as Marthe Goossens who has only just started cycling, but also for experienced riders such as Lotta Henttala. She returns to cycling, after becoming a mother, at the highest level and not only brings her experience as a rider with her but also life experience outside cycling. That is important for the overall development of the riders, the people, in our team.
I am starting this new chapter in my life with the same ambition and enthusiasm in my partnership with Patrick. In those many years as a team leader in men’s cycling teams I gained a lot of experience. I would now like to use this to create something very beautiful and unique. Of course, best practices from a Tour de France for men are not one-on-one copyable but of course I’m not alone. We have with Jolien D’hoore, for example, but also with a leader like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio so much experience in women’s cycling. If we combine that, a beautiful mix will be created. I believe in that and that is what makes this project so attractive to me.
It will come as no surprise that the Tour de France Femmes is an important point for us as a team. Last season, the white jersey worn by Julia Borgström was already a wonderful highlight but with a rider like Ashleigh, we can of course be very ambitious. In addition, we are a team with a heart for Belgian cycling so the spring classics on Flemish and Ardennes roads will also become very important. As a team, because we are strong in width, we can attack and ride races as ‘free riders’. Hopefully we can get a nice win.”Servais Knaven