By Tim Bonville-Ginn published
Patrick Lefevere has decided that he will be investing in women's cycling after all as his recruitment agency, Experza, joins the development team NXTG Racing as a sponsor for 2022.
This has come as a surprise to many after Lefevere voiced his reasons for not creating a women's version of his men's WorldTour team Deceuninck - Quick-Step earlier this year, saying: "With all due respect, but I'm not a charity either, hey."
But now the outspoken team boss looks to have changed his tune with a new sponsorship deal to develop more fresh talent in the women's side of the sport.
Lefevere told Cycling Tips: "First of all, I want to say that despite common opinion I have nothing against women’s cycling.
“On the contrary, with Experza and NXTG I start a journey in women’s cycling. Women’s cycling is growing very fast. However, at the moment I feel there are not enough riders of a certain level for all the current WorldTour teams. That’s why I want to do it the other way around and start from the juniors and young riders, giving them an environment to develop.
"That’s how I got into contact with Natascha Knaven-den Ouden (NXTG Racing founder) and we started talking."
Experza is a recruitment agency run by Lefevere and his business partner Sylvie Anraed who is the CEO of the company.
NXTG Racing posted to Twitter saying: "We are proud to announce our new partnership with Experza. Our team name for 2022 is 'NXTG by Experza'."
💙 We are proud to announce our new partnership with Experza.Our team name for 2022 is “NXTG by Experza“ .https://t.co/0Fed0Xgt4C pic.twitter.com/FKxXaWvMhiDecember 3, 2021
Lefevere is no stranger to developing young talent with the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Julian Alaphilippe, Enric Mas and Remco Evenepoel all being involved with development teams of his before turning pro.
However, it may take more than this for Lefevere to shake the image he has made for himself that has led people such as former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) to say: "I really just take everything he says with a pinch of salt. So no, I'm not disappointed by his comments. Actually, I'm pleased that he has no interest in women's cycling because we have no interest in him either."
Lefevere's team has been the most successful in recent years, with his riders sparkling in the Grand Tours, Classics and week-long stage races and he says he wants to head that way with this new project.
"Our sponsors want it and have been asking for an investment by us in women’s cycling for a while but they assumed it was part of our existing budget," he continued.
"That’s not true. We can’t eat away at the quality of the men’s team so we need extra funds for the women’s team. I need time to find it. Luckily the agents in women’s cycling don’t have the same urgency as the men."
Deceuninck recently pulled out of sponsoring Lefevere's team to join rival Belgian squad Alpecin-Fenix with the Deceuninck CEO saying: "Women's cycling is increasing in importance and we cannot ignore that.
"We discussed that, but Patrick is Patrick."
Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!
I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.
It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.
After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.
When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.
My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.
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