Lotto Soudal manager Lelangue defends rejuvenation: “Other teams looked forward to our own breeding”


Lotto Soudal manager Lelangue defends rejuvenation: “Other teams have been eyeing our own breeding”

Lotto Soudal leaves a lot of experienced riders and mainly replaces them with neo-pros. The so-called civil society has almost completely disappeared, whether or not for budgetary reasons, and that is causing criticism. Team manager John Lelangue defends himself. “I do not share the fear that we will shoot ourselves in the foot with a mix that is too young at WorldTour level.”

“Do Jens Keukeleire and Jelle Wallays offer so much more guarantee for classic success? No, right? Then I prefer to focus fully on the future and invest in promising youth ”, Lelangue says in an extensive interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. “I don’t think our midfield in the Flemish classics was that weak. Brent Van Moer and Florian Vermeersch are the spearheads of a new, strong generation. They really do become drivers. “

Sunweb as an example
“Add Gilbert, Degenkolb, Frison and De Buyst to that in 2021 and we have a great team, right? There were plenty of options to supplement with mature thirties. But what is our training team for? Sunweb, Jumbo-Visma, BORA-hansgrohe and AG2R were looking forward to our ‘own breeding’. Reason enough to give Grignard, Van Gils, Verschaeve, Vervloesem, Sweeny and co. to keep in-house. ”

Lelangue also defends the choice to attract Kron and Conca. “Sure it is a bit of poker. And yes, we sometimes lose the argument, as with Van Wilder and Vandenabeele (both to Sunweb, ed.). Own choice of those guys. But I do not share the fear that we would shoot ourselves in the foot with a mix that is too young at WorldTour level. Sunweb came with six youngsters (out of a total of seven, ed.) At the start of the Waalse Pijl. Benoot (26) was the oldest in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Look at the results. ”

Click between Gilbert and Degenkolb
Lelangue also disagrees with the criticism of recruiting Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb a year ago. Too old. They’ve had the best, it sounded. “One year later it is established that John has driven one of his best classic campaigns in years,” says Lelangue. “He won a nice stage in the Tour of Luxembourg and finished in the top ten in the BinckBank Tour, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Bruges-De Panne.”

“Too bad that Paris-Roubaix was canceled. I would have liked to see it again. I also think Philippe Gilbert still has his value. His absence in October was a pain. He and John really click, that chemistry could have paid off. So I think we have made the right sporting choices. In the meantime, I let our other leaders Wellens, Ewan and De Gendt continue to do their thing: hijack rides in the (big) lap work that McEwen and Greipel have made into the DNA of this team over the years. ”

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