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Sunday, the Antwerp Port Epic, also known as Schaals Sels, is scheduled on the calendar of AG Insurance – Soudal. The course, stretching over 140 kilometers through the province of Antwerp, includes no less than 56 kilometers of unpaved roads and cobblestone sections. The riders must brace themselves for the rugged terrain.

Since 2023, the Antwerp Port Epic has also been featured on the women's cycling calendar, and this year marks the second edition of the race.

AG Insurance - Soudal has put together a strong lineup, consisting of a mix of U23 riders and elite women. The team includes Ilse Pluimers, Julia Kopecky, Leonie Bentveldt, Maaike Boogaard, Marthe Goossens, Laura Lizette Sander and Mirre Knaven.

“Antwerp Port Epic is a very beautiful race with many offroad sections, and we are starting with an interesting mix of U23 riders and four elite riders. Our U23 riders are Laura Lizette Sander, Mirre Knaven, and Julia Kopecky. Mirre and Julia both have a background in cyclocross, so I expect them to go very far in this race and that we can use them in the final. Mirre has certainly already proven to be in good shape in recent weeks, and the same goes for Julia Kopecky, whose condition is really improving. Laura Lizette has also shown that she can compete at the highest level among the elites."

“In addition, we have Ilse Pluimers, who is back in action after the Vuelta Femenina. She is always very important for the team, especially as team captain, and this is also the case for Maaike Boogaard. Furthermore, we have Marthe Goossens, who is making her comeback after her collarbone fracture in Nokere Koerse. I don’t want to put too much pressure on her, but this is certainly a race that suits her, as she has proven in the past. Finally, we have Leonie Bentveld at the start. As a cyclocross rider, this is a race that suits her perfectly. It is her first race for our team, so it will take some getting used to at first, but I am really looking forward to working with her and am curious to see what she can do in this race”, said sports manager Jolien D’hoore.