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Moolman-Pasio had announced earlier this season that she intended to retire at the end of the year. However, she confirmed to VeloNews during the Tour de France Femmes that she was reconsidering her stance and was looking to go on for another season.
The 36-year-old South African has enjoyed a strong 2022 season with a podium place at Strade Bianche and top-5 finishes at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring. She was in the hunt for a strong GC finish at the recent Tour de France Femmes but had to abandon ahead of the final stage due to illness.
“I was very certain I would retire after this season,” Moolman-Pasio said. “It’s what I announced to the world but gradually the idea to continue started to gain ground in my mind. I had one of my best seasons to date and even at 36 I make progress every year. My level is higher than it’s ever been, so here we are.”
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AG Insurance has primarily been a development squad for young riders but with its ambition to step up to WorldTour level it has been targeting more experienced riders for the squad. Moolman-Pasio has been a pro for 13 seasons, riding for some of the top teams in the bunch in that time.
She’s hoping that she’ll be able to pass on her wealth of experience to the younger riders in the team.
“I like to share and talk. Cycling is not only about riding hard. There is so much more to it like nutrition, your mental health and recovery. Living a life as a full-time pro is something you can learn and I can’t wait to share my life experiences with the team,” she said.
“Of course, having the team on my mind already, I followed them closely during the Tour de France Femmes and was impressed by the way they really rode as a team with and for each other. Despite the setbacks they experienced with two riders crashing out, they kept their morale up and even wore the white jersey. It was inspiring to see for me.”
AG Insurance-NXTG is backed by the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team and Patrick Lefevere, but it is run by Natascha Knaven-Den Ouden. Moolman-Pasio’s former teammate Jolien D’hoore, who retired from racing after last season, is the sports director.
According to Moolman-Pasio, all of this helped her reach the decision to join the team for next season.
“I was not even sure if I wanted to continue but when Natascha and I chatted I felt an instant connection to her and the decision was made. We share the same values when it comes to cycling but mostly, we are both incredibly passionate about this sport and the development of women’s cycling,” Moolman-Pasio said.
“Having Jolien behind the wheel and being reunited with her is also a great prospect. She coaches the riders from the car. Her energy helps the team forward. You can already see that now. I can mentor the riders from inside the bunch. Not as their ultimate team leader from an ivory tower but always as part of the unity that the team comes across as. We rise by lifting each other. I am also looking forward to learning from them, despite the age gap.”