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After 12 seasons as sports director with Ineos Grenadiers, eight overall victories in grand tours and as a personal highlight Paris-Roubaix last year, Servais Knaven makes the switch to AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step to fill the position of sports & technical manager. It’s quite the move for the 51-year-old Dutchman.

“For me, the opportunity to join AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step came at the ideal moment. Women's cycling is buzzing and therefore a very interesting place for me to continue my career. There is still so much to discover and develop. There is many challenges waiting there for me. We can take very big steps as a team.”

In 2018, the team that will be known as AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step Women's Pro Cycling Team from this year, started modestly with only six junior ladies. The project grew slowly but steadily to the pyramid structure as it stands today: juniors or U19, U23 and an elite team with the ambition to grow to the highest level.

“The world is changing fast in our sport. As a team, we want to offer the riders of today but also those of the future the opportunity to fully unlock their own potential. This concerns young talents like Febe Jooris who has already proven herself as a junior, unpolished talent like Marthe Goossens who has only just started cycling, but also experienced riders like Lotta Henttala. She returns to the highest level after becoming a mother, bringing not only her experience as a rider but also life experience outside of cycling that is important for the overall development of the riders in our team.”

Servais is no stranger to Patrick Lefevere's teams. In2003 he got the very first victory for the then newly founded Quickstep team.

     

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Servais is no stranger to Patrick Lefevere's teams. In2003 he got the very first victory for the then newly founded Quickstep team.

“I am starting this new chapter in my partnership with Patrick with the same ambition and enthusiasm. In those many years as a sports director for teams in men's cycling, I have gained a lot of experience. I would now like to use that to create something very beautiful and unique together. Of course, best practices from a Tour de France for men cannot be copied one-on-one, but of course I am not alone. We have so much experience in women's cycling with, for example, Jolien D'hoore who I will join in the team car occasionally, but also with a team leader like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. 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.”

AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step already showed a lot of ambition in 2022. Eight of the riders from our own development team move up to the elite team. Eight complementary riders were recruited to realize the ambitions.

“It will come as no surprise that the Tour de France Femmes is an important goal for us as a team. Last season, the white jersey worn by Julia Borgström was already a great highlight, but with a rider like Ashleigh we can be more ambitious. In addition, we are a team with a passion for Belgian cycling, so the Spring classics on Flemish and Walloon roads will also be very important. As a team, because we are strong overall, we can attack the races with an attractive style of racing. Hopefully we can get a nice win.”

AG Insurance - Soudal Quick-Step consists of 16 elite riders, twelve U23 riders and nine juniors. That's a lot of talent under one umbrella. So, there will be opportunities for everyone and Servais would like to propagate that feeling of togetherness.

“In fact, every race is important for the development of our – mostly - young riders who get their opportunities there, but also for our staff. In my opinion, we are always developing, just like the riders. Together we will take this team to the next level with the ultimate ambition to get that Women's World Tour license in 2024," he concludes.