Lotto Soudal CEO John Lelangue insists that his group will proceed to race aggressively with out focussing an excessive amount of on UCI factors in 2022, regardless of the group languishing within the hazard zone of relegation from the WorldTour in 2023.
As Cyclingnews reported this week, there are can be solely 18 spots for the WorldTour beginning in 2023 and the UCI is predicted to attract the road beneath the highest groups within the factors rankings from 2020 by way of 2022. Lotto Soudal is at the moment twentieth and shut behind Cofidis, Intermarché-Wanty Gobert and Israel-Premier Tech.
They’re additionally dealing with a problem from aspiring groups Arkéa-Samsic, TotalEnergies and Uno-X, however Lelangue will not be worrying about their rating, neither is he involved that Soudal is about to maneuver throughout to Patrick Lefevere’s QuickStep group subsequent 12 months.
“The truth that we knew early that Soudal is leaving offers us a bonus,” Lelangue says in accordance with Wielerflits.nl. “This offers alternatives for each us and any companions. There at the moment are a number of contacts and they’re constructive. A whole lot of firms need to determine with our group and have the identical values. Our squad is enticing sufficient. As well as, with the Nationwide Lottery, we’ve a secure important sponsor, with a protracted historical past in biking. However in the event you ask if a signature has already been made? No, not but as we speak. We nonetheless have time.”
Lelangue admitted that 2021 didn’t go their manner fairly often. The group completed 18th within the World Rankings, behind Arkéa-Samsic, and gained 12 races.
“Okay, final 12 months was a foul 12 months,” Lelangue stated however pointed breakthrough efficiency of Florian Vermeersch in Paris-Roubaix and Critérium du Dauphiné stage win by Brent van Moer.
“With Caleb Ewan in Milan-San Remo (second) and Florian Vermeersch in Paris-Roubaix, we achieved two podium locations in Monuments. And we took twelve wins, eight of which have been within the WorldTour.”
Lotto Soudal have a historical past of stepping into breakaways, with riders like Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens often on the assault. A group on the cusp of shedding their place within the WorldTour could possibly be excused for racing extra conservatively however that is not in Lelangue’s plan.
“I loved our attacking racing fashion however you do not get UCI factors with that. That system will not be in favour of our manner of racing. Nevertheless, that’s our DNA. I do not need to change that.”
Lelangue additionally shot down rumours that the group’s best-ranked rider in 2021, Caleb Ewan, is perhaps despatched to smaller races to make sure he can earn sufficient factors for the group to maintain its top-tier standing – successful a Professional Collection one-day race is value greater than a Tour de France stage.
“I’m assured that we’ll end within the high eighteen. With out altering Caleb’s program,” Lelangue stated. “He solely provides Gent-Wevelgem and De Panne in comparison with final 12 months. These will not be smaller races. However we’ll get our factors. Caleb’s dash practice has been beefed up. Our younger individuals are developing. I additionally count on one thing from (neo-pro) Arnaud De Lie. Victor [Campenaerts] has additionally been added. We’ll proceed to race offensively. With out focusing an excessive amount of on these factors. These will come naturally.”
He expects that Philippe Gilbert, whose high point-scoring lead to 2021 was fifth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, will ship and assist mentor youthful riders, too.
“[Gilbert] will nonetheless ship outcomes, there is no such thing as a doubt about that. However he’s additionally necessary for the group as a mentor, a born chief. When he speaks, everybody listens.” However whether or not he’ll race the Tour de France stays to be seen. “He’s within the pre-selection of ten, however Phil won’t declare that spot if his situation will not be so as. He’s that truthful.”
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