Welcome Lotta Henttala
Lotta Henttala née Lepistö joins AG Insurance-NXTG for the 2023 season. The 33-year-old Finnish rider is returning to the pro peloton after having her son Olavi in January of this year. Henttala is a powerful sprinter who has previously won races like Gent-Wevelgem and Vårgårda but admits coming back to the pro peloton next year is a new yet exciting adventure to undertake.
“It’s an exciting challenge coming back from a very low level. It’s going to be a discovery to see how far I can take this. Women’s cycling is so exciting at the moment and I would love to be part of that again. I have been following it closely as Eurosport commentator and the level is high! Things are changing so fast and I want to be part of that change too. Races like Paris-Roubaix would be a dream to ride and hopefully I will be ready to do that already next year, if not in 2024.”
Henttala had qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo but couldn’t ride because of her pregnancy. When she got back on the bike a few months after having her son she felt that familiar tingle again.
“I was enjoying myself on the bike again. I never told anyone I retired officially but it’s also known that I struggled mentally for a while. That is now behind me. My perspective has changed. Of course, I am very ambitious for this new start to succeed and I have Paris on my mind because it’s such a great, flat course but I also always know that for Olavi it doesn’t matter whether I come last or first.
I am a different person because my son is always number one in my life. Still, I would love to be first, or at least help the team achieve their goals. AG Insurance-NXTG is a talented group and I can’t wait to meet them all, and to be reunited with Ashleigh.”
AG Insurance-NXTG is taking shape now for the 2023 season where the ambitions are high. The team led by Natascha Knaven-den Ouden hopes to obtain a World Tour license and be an example to other teams when it comes to development. She sees Henttala as an important piece of the puzzle between the young riders who arrive from the team’s own development and the aim to score results in the biggest races.
“Lotta is a highly experienced rider and a versatile sprinter. She has shown mental resilience in her career when she overcame mental adversities. Lotta doesn’t only bring us her experience on the bike but also her life experience. We tend to approach the development of our riders holistically, so not only focusing on the athletic ability but also mental strength to support their goals during their cycling career but also after it. Over half of our team are young women and I see Lotta as an important person in the team structure.
It’s also great to see that women’s cycling is progressing so fast. Only a handful years ago pregnancy meant the end of your career and now it’s just a break. Riders like Lizzie Deignan or Marta Bastianelli have shown that coming back stronger is very well possible. Lotta has a dream to represent Finland at the Olympic Games in Paris and I want to help her make that dream come true.”
AG Insurance-NXTG will have 16 riders next year, meaning we still have three names to announce.