Offseason Capsule: Lotto Soudal



Can the only Lotto abandoned in town begin cashing in some of their tickets?

Lotto Soudal are the hipster fisherman ’s preferred cycling team– overwhelmingly Belgian, although maybe not the most successful Belgian staff, chock full of young talent, but maybe not the most precocious of the neo pros, also boasting some of the very exciting, but perhaps not necessarily effective, riders at the pro-ranks, while still trying to maintain the cycling team for a family but not a business feel (but not efficiently ), boasting (but not for long) Tom Boonen as an “advisor,” and repping the original Lotto before Rabobank believed it was cool. As of late, success has been secondary to style to Lotto, but perhaps that’s going to change.

What we said last year

Andrew was prescient in his prediction for Lotto’s 2018 year:

[W]ith Gallopin departing and Greipel aging, the odds of maintaining 8th place and matching the 25 wins (including 5 GT stages) of 2017 are quite low.

On the other hand, Keukeleire, Benoot and Wellens provides the squad a cadre of gifted twenty-something Belgians to build around. Reaching evasive success in the classics and picking up some higher-profile victories looks like a viable and necessary aim. ”

We’ll simply ignore the simple fact that they matched their 2017 win total exactly, together with 25 wins again in 2018, but otherwise the prediction was put on– just 2 of those wins were grand excursion stages, and they dropped to 14th place in vds. At precisely the identical time, I believe wins at Strade Bianche and De Brabantse Pijl qualify as success in the classics and greater profile victories.

What we obtained in 2018

2018 was Andre Greipel’s 8th year in Lotto. During the first 7 decades, Greipel never failed to acquire a minumum of one grand tour stage, with this streak extending farther back to 2008 during his HTC High Road days. Throughout his period with Lotto, Greipel made the group 16 grand tour stage wins, including 11 in the Tour, along with 94 total wins. More impressively, during his tenure with Lotto, Greipel has introduced some of the sickest rap tracks that the hip hop world as ever heard. In 2018, although his streak of GT stage wins finished, Greipel contributed 8 of Lotto’s 25 wins. While we could explore the integrity of Greipel’so release in addition to the potency of his replacement under, it was barely a bad year for a sprinter who turned 36.

The two Tiesj Benoot along with Tim Wellens raced well throughout the year, together with Benoot finally picking up his first professional win in an epic Strade Bianche (see below) along with Wellens discovering both stage race and also one day success.

Victor Campenaerts plied his time trial trade well, shooting the European Championship, the Belgium Championship, also 3rd at Worlds. Thomas De Gendt continued to do his crazy thing, shooting break victories at the Dauphine and Romandie and the mountain championships in the Vuelta. Jelle Vanendert rediscovered his form, at least to the Ardennes classics.

However, not unexpectedly, Lotto were nowhere to be viewed at the GC competition in the grand tours. Maxime Monfort was their best positioned finisher, with a 42nd in the Vuelta. In the Tourthey managed a 65th with De Gendt, and they pulled a 57th in the Giro together with Sander Armee. While maybe perhaps not a group constructed for grand tour disagreements, they were probably anticipating better.

Additionally, possibly more unexpectedly, victories at the cobbled classics remained elusive for a group with this kind of heavy Belgian representation.

FSA-DS Ranking 2018

14th with 7,232 points

Below average (which was 8,369 points to the 2018 WT teams) although not by much. And it might have been worse– at least theyrsquo;re not Katusha!

Top Highlights

1. Tiesj Benoot in Strade Bianche

Susie Hartigan

Benooooooooooot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enough has been written concerning the epic battle at this season ’s Strade Bianche, also indeed that film really is worth 1,000 wordsbut, goddamn, did Benoot choose the ideal way to finally break his victory-less streak.

2. Tim Wellens on Stage 4 of the Giro

Tim Wellens had a fantastic year (GC in Ruta del Sol, GC in Tour de Wallonie, also 1st in De Brabantse Pijl), but this stage victory in the Giro stands out. His victory on a short and steep climb to the finish came on the first day on Italian land following the start in Israel and would presage the fireworks to emerge in what would become the very exciting stage race of the year. Following his victory, hindsight would show that he conquered the most volatile Simon Yates that we’ve noticed who would seem invincible on the brief uphill climbs in the coming stages. More to the point, for Wellens, who had won (and loss) races on longer range attacks, this triumph proved both his strength and also a new found patience where he managed to go toe to toe, mano-a-mano, also gamba a gamba from a leading field of cyclists and pull out the victory.

3. Jelle Wallays hardly holding off the sprinters on Stage 18 of the Vuelta

I might have set Victor Campenaerts time trial gold in the European Championships here, however you don’t even win friends with salad or time trials. Instead, allow ’therefore go with a triumph to bring joy to cycling fans worldwide, Jelle Wallays hanging onto the breakaway win by holding off his breakaway companion, Sven Erik Bystrom, in addition to the charging sprinters. Superior stuff from a rider that looked for a rising star while to the Sport Vlaanderen group afterwards shooting victories at Paris-Tours and Dwars door Vlaanderen however whose star has fizzled out in the World Tour level.

Bottom Lowlights

1. Placing down the Gorilla

A meme That’s 36 years old in sprinter years matches a 36 Year-old sprinter

Cycling News did a true damn journalism this year also has a post about the dynamics that caused Greipel not renewing his contract with the group and dropping down into the pro-conti rankings . To summarize, Lotto brought in a CEO with business acumen at the Start of 2018, together with Marc Sergeant being decreased to a DS. Lotto had wanted to bring in Caleb Ewan and also got the opportunity at the start of the year without even telling Greipel. Rather than telling Greipel that they would be releasing himLotto provided Greipel increasingly insulting contracts until he decided he needed to leave. At precisely the identical time, Lotto shared their own offers made to Greipel to additional groups, weakening Greipel’s bargaining position and consequent into his new gig at Arkea Samsic. No rap for the Gorilla for 2018, rather his soundtrack was The Supremes.

If CN’s sources should be believed, it’s a shitty way to allow the head of your group for the previous 8 years ahead. Was it a fantastic business decision? That’s likely to depend upon Ewan’s year this year, however I’ll offer you my personal view under.

2. No wins the cobbles

The last time that this Belgian group won the Ronde was 16 decades ago, in 2003, together with Peter van Petegem. The last time Lotto won E3 was 2001 with Andrei Tchmil. Gent-Wevelgem was in 2005 together with Nico Mattan. The Omloop was in 2002 and Paris-Roubaix in 2003, again with van Petegem. Within a decade will be an awful time to have last won over the cobbles in any of those bigger classics, particularly where the group ’s attention has been on the grand tours.

3. Jasper De vds Bu(y)st

Following his barn storming period in 2017, where he scored 880 points as a 1 pointer, De Buyst followed closely with just 175 points. Perhaps it was his schedule, which inexplicably included 62 days of stage racing and just 18 one day races, but there was a regression. Matters don’t even seem better to him 2019, where he & ’s going to become a part of Ewan’s leadout train and will have limited opportunities for themself.

Comings and goings for 2019

Ins: Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport), Roger Kluge (Mitchelton-Scott), Stan Dewulf (neo pro), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Joker), Brent Van Moer (neo pro), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Gerben Thijssen (neo pro), Rasmus Iversen (neo pro).

Outs: Andre Greipel (Arkea Samsic), Lars Bak (Dimension Data), Jens Debusschere (Katusha), Moreno Hofland (EF), Marcel Sieberg (Bahrain), James Shaw.

Renewals: Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt, Tosh Van der Sande, Adam Hansen, Remy Mertz, Enzo Wouters, Nikolas Maes.

Let’so discuss that Ewan for Greipel swap. Besides Lotto’s weird peccadillo for sprinters that are most successful in Australia (Both Greipel and Ewan have won more in the Tour Down Under than every other race, Greipel with 18 stage wins and Ewan having 7), this is a fantastic move. Whatever Greipel’s prior contributions to the group, there aren’t a lot of competitive 36 year old sprinters, also Greipel was probably consuming a huge area of the group ’therefore funding. Ewan is just 24 years old and has been knocking on the door of a breakthrough year for the last several decades. It’so like investing in a 1989 corvette with 250,000 kilometers, a slipping transmission, also $15,000 still owed the bank for a totally paid off brand new Tesla. Surethe Tesla might unexpectedly catch fire, however there’s not a whole lot of sunk costs associated with that.

Together with the Greipel-Ewan swap, Lotto also swapped out direct out riders, bringing Roger Kluge together with Ewan out of Mitchelton-Scott and registering Adam Blythe, who has worked together with Ewan previously. With Ewan with a disappointing season this past year, that was largely the result of being a lame duck on a GT-oriented group after having signed by Lotto at the start of the seasonit’s pretty easy to forget that he was just pesky Sicilian from winning Milano-Sanremo. Having a supportive staff behind him along with a leadout specifically built , start looking for Ewan to get his very best year as a professional yet.

Besides the blockbuster sprinter swap, Lotto has been concentrated on registering neo pros during the last few seasons. This year, they bring in Stan Dewulf, the winner of last season ’s Paris-Roubaix espoirs race, so since their premier neo ace signing, but additionally signed Gerben Thijssen, the u23 Belgian National champion, in addition to Brent Van Moer, that seemed competitive in the 1 afternoon u23 races. They’ll join a bevy of creating ability, demonstrating Lotto’s no desire to build a team that can can finish their high-value classics drought.

The disappointing departure was Jens Debusschere departing for Katusha because he was great for hoovering up points in the classics together with top 10 finishes. In precisely the identical period if Lotto is building for the future and also wants to create riders who can actually win the type of races in which Debusschere could get a top 10, releasing him to provide the young riders some opportunity make sense for Lotto.

Most intriguing rider

It was a tough start to the year for the young Belgian prodigy Bjorg Lambrecht, who would be pulled out of startlist of the earliest intended professional race in the Tour Down Under after having a technical screw up in registering for anti-doping controllers. Matters would slowly get better to him throughout the season because he had to ride at the pro peloton, together with Lambrecht getting his first professional victory in the Tour des Fjords with a stage win and a 2nd at the GC. He would follow that up with leading 20 performances in two World Tour a week stage races along with a start in the Vuelta where he appeared to get better as the race went on before the group pulled him after Stage 14 as a preventative step. He would then take 2nd in the u23 Worlds about the hard Austrian parcours. Lambrecht currently resembles a burgeoning stage race ability along with a rider that should prosper where Louis Vervaeke not long ago fizzled with the same expectations.

Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick / Lillers – Grand Prix de Lillers-Souvenir Bruno Comini, 6 mars 2016 (B141) / Wikimedia Commons / Cc-by-sa 3.0
End Belgian child labour, now!

Thus, what happens next?

As Andrew said this past year, Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot are two good 20-something riders to form your group about. Wellens seems like a perennial contender in 1 week stage races and also hilly one day screenplay, while Benoot is multi-talented and could be competitive on the cobbles, around the hills, or at the hills. Regardless of Benoot’s professional victory this past year, he looks like a rider that’s going to have trouble finding a way to triumph in the conclusion of races because he lacks the rush of several of the other hardmen roleurs. Hopefully, however, with his development he will find a way to win and come nearer to fulfilling his original hyperbolic guarantee as the next Boonen rather than getting the next Sep Vanmarcke.

In general, the prognosis for Lotto isn’t much different than last year. Theyrsquo;ll expect to secure more victories from Ewan than they did with Greipel this past year and will last to ride opportunistically with the likes of De Gendt, Wallays, along with Vanendert. The major question is whether they could begin to get some positive output from their cadre of young riders, including the aforementioned Lambrecht in addition to Harm Vanhoucke, Enzo Wouters, Remy Mertz, along with the four neo pros. Vanhoucke, in particular, appeared like a star in the making in the u23 positions but had a tough first year together with Lotto this past year. If he can progress, Lotto is going to have essential mountain goat that will score points in races in which they generally cannot compete.

Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Twelve
Photo from Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The real reason that we call him Crazy is to get his inexplicable affinity for Richard Nixon

With the lack of Debusschere (and to a lesser scope Moreno Hofland) there will also be a difference to fill at the sprinty SSR races that mess the Belgium calendar, and that there does not appear an obvious candidate to fill this gap. If not one of those young riders, possibly Jens Keukeleire, or maybe even Lawrence Naesen, could seize this opportunity.

Truly, however, this really is a group that shouldn’t look a lot different than 2018 or 2017. 25 wins might be difficult to replicate, however this should be among the most exciting band of riders to watch, whether it be De Gendt heading on a 150 kilometer solo breakaway in the Pyrenees, Benoot pedaling with grit while caked with grit, Wellens charging off the front into a monsoon, or even Ewan pocket rocketing himself around the elephantine girth of a sprinter like Kristoff.

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