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Following the collapse of the proposed Jumbo-Visma takeover, Soudal-QuickStep are continuing into 2024 and the Belgian team have this week come together for their first team-building activities ahead of the new season.
In a series of events in league with sponsors and partners, the entire team – including marquee signings Mikel Landa and Gianni Moscon, and seven neo-pros – met up in Belgium as the planning for the new season begins.
The team had been under threat in late September with Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma aiming to bring Soudal on board as a title sponsor along with several key riders. However, the proposed takeover collapsed two weeks later, with Soudal-QuickStep now confirmed under the leadership of Patrick Lefevere and Zdenek Bakala through to the end of 2025.
Earlier this week the squad headed to Soudal’s headquarters in Turnhout for meetings, photos and a tour of the sealant and adhesive company’s factory. They then met up with sister squad AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep at the Wielsbeke headquarters of QuickStep to celebrate the flooring company’s 25 years as a cycling sponsor.
The team then headed to the North Sea coast in Oostende for a day of team-building activities on Tuesday.
Such meetups are one of the few times in the year where full teams can get together, and so leaders such as Remco Evenepoel, Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, and Yves Lampaert met with development team graduates including Il Piccolo Lombardia champion William Junior Lecerf and Gent-Wevelgem U23 winner Gil Gelders.
The group played a ‘crack the code’ murder mystery game as the squad split into teams of ‘runners’ and ‘thinkers’ teams, with the thinkers taking several tests to send the runners to different locations around Oostende for them to solve the mystery.
Photos sent out by Soudal-QuickStep show Bert Van Lerberghe and Tim Merlier taking part in the fun and games in front of their teammates, Mattia Cattaneo working on a test with three perplexed-looking teammates, and a blindfolded Gianni Moscon and Yves Lampaert taking instructions from Kasper Asgreen.
“We were looking for a team building event around the time of our team meeting, which was held at Soudal’s offices in Turnhout,” team directeur sportif Tom Steels said. “We are very grateful to Meet in Oostende for their help in organising this event, and for hosting at the beautiful Thermae Palace hotel.
“Everybody involved had a really enjoyable couple of days and we are able to enjoy a team spirit that we hope we can carry into the forthcoming season. It was the perfect location and a fantastic event.”
The team, currently at 27 confirmed riders for 2024, will get together again over the winter for training camps in Spain. Then, their attention will turn to the new season at the Tour Down Under, which kicks off in Tanunda on January 16.