Lotto-Soudal does not renew contracts for 5 riders: “Youth is the future” | Cycling


5 Belgian Lotto-Soudal riders see their stay with the team come to an end. Jelle Wallays, Tosh Van der Sande, Nikolas Maes, Sander Armée and Rémy Mertz die after the rejuvenation of the team. John Lelangue confirms the youthful injection to his team. “It makes sense that we have to say goodbye to some riders.”

No “letter of resignation” for five: “Everyone was informed”

The five that seem to have no future at Lotto-Soudal reportedly received a “letter of resignation” in the mail and also seemed to be surprised according to various media.

“The riders have not received a letter of resignation,” explains Lotto-Soudal CEO John Lelangue at Sporza. “It’s not a question of firing.”

“It is a matter that if we wanted to respect the regulations (of the UCI) and the rider contracts themselves, we have to send a letter before October 1 to the riders whose contracts we are not renewing (for the time being), their brokers, the CPA and the UCI. “

“We have done that with all the riders who are now in the team and whose contracts we do not renew. There is never an automatic renewal of the contracts in our team, so not even a dismissal.”

“It is also a sign of respect to the riders. If they have other opportunities, they are free to accept them. But they will remain in service until the end of December. I read in other media that they would not ride this season. for us, that’s not true. “

If we want to recruit younger riders to the first team and we only have room for 27 riders, it goes without saying that we have to say goodbye to a few guys. That is one balance game.

John Lelangue

According to Lelangue, the contracts will not be renewed “for the time being”. So the riders still have a chance to prove themselves? “To prove ourselves, but we also have to see if they fit into our plans, with the number of riders we will have. The UCI regulations say it can be 27 riders.”

“Many of our Belgian and foreign young talents are currently performing well. We are also recruiting for the future. If we want to recruit these riders to the first team and we only have room for 27 riders, it goes without saying that we have to say goodbye to some of them. guys, that’s one balance game.

“I have also spoken with all the riders’ agents in recent months. Both the riders and agents were notified that the letter would come.”

Jelle Wallays (winner of last year in Paris-Tours) does not see his contract renewed.

“Working with young people towards 2022-2023”

The youth continues to do extremely well in cycling lately. At Lotto-Soudal there is also a rejuvenation cure on the way. “Since joining the team in 2018, I immediately said that the training team was very important,” said Lelangue. “Just look at Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot, Stan Dewulf, Harm Vanhoucke, Florian Vermeersch or Brent Van Moer.”

“If you look at the results of the young Belgians in stage races this strange season, with Henri Vandenabeele, Xandres Vervloesem or Maxim Van Gils, among others. There is a very good generation of young Belgian talents. It is normal that we do not want to leave them They also receive offers from WorldTour teams such as Sunweb, Jumbo-Visma or Bora-Hansgrohe. “

“They (the U23 team, ed.) Are our future for the 2022-2023 season. We want to keep investing in those younger riders. They have experience at an international level with the U23 and have already shown that they can take the step higher. . “

“The year that comes now will be a transition year. But with a good balance between the experience and between the young people. And those are mainly climbing talents.”

“It is the same reasoning that we make as with Bjorg Lambrecht. His first two WorldTour years and then, in the third year, he was ready to make the switch to the frontiership. We must continue in the same direction, also with foreign talents. , such as Andreas Kron. “

“Young generation of mountain riders will be able to perform immediately”

How do the leaders of the Lelangue team feel about the upcoming young violence? Doesn’t that make them lose valuable servants? “For the classic work we have another De Buyst, Frison, Kluge and also a Van Moer and Vermeersch have a year of experience. The” midfield “is there.”

“As for the sprinters, our second part of the team: with De Buyst and Kluge we already have two men who stay. Frison also functions well on the train and Degenkolb is still there. Among the promises there is Harry Sweeney who functions as lead-out. He knows his job, drives good results and will now make the switch. “

“Then we have the mountain riders in the team. Here the younger generation will be able to perform immediately. I don’t expect to win the Tour, but we ask them to win stage races of 1 week or even in grand tours à la De Gendt. That remains the ambition. “

“Then we’ll see. If we have top talent who can win one-week stage races like the Tour de Suisse or the Dauphiné for example, then we can see further. I hope that a Vanhoucke will evolve more and more in that direction.”

Harm Vanhoucke

Harm Vanhoucke.

“Our budget remains ambitious”

According to Lelangue, the rejuvenation treatment is therefore a long-term project, which he was already working on in 2018. But here and there it is also rumored that the budgets at Lotto-Soudal have taken a hit. “We always have to work with the budget we have.”

“The five leaders have signed a new contract. Gilbert, Degenkolb, Ewan, De Gendt and Wellens. We have our basis, the stability is there, also budgetary. It is true that we get a lot of young riders, but they are not there either. the minimum wage. They also receive offers from Israel Start-Up Nation, Jumbo-Visma, Sunweb or Bora-Hansgrohe. “

“Sometimes you have to let go, like Hagen and Dewulf. Some you can’t keep and then you have to look at other opportunities. The difference between the wages of a rider from” midfield “and a good younger rider is not great either. We have to respect the budget, but the budget must also remain ambitious. And that is the case. “

We have our basis, the stability is there, also budgetary. It is true that we get a lot of young riders, but they also do not come for the minimum wage.

John Lelangue

“To score on all races to come”

If we can believe Lelangue, it promises to be a bright future for Lotto-Soudal in the coming years. But what does he still hope for the current corona season? “We want to score on all races to come”, it sounds ambitious.

“There are no smaller races anymore. I am very happy that we will still be riding all Ardennes and Flemish classics. Whether we score with the leaders or with the youngsters, that’s all good.”

John Lelangue.

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