Lotto Soudal are reportedly undergoing a squad revamp for the 2021 season, with 10 riders given notice that their contracts will not be renewed this year.
39-year-old Adam Hansen, a stage winner at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España and a nine-year veteran at the Belgian team, heads up the list of names reported to be leaving the team, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
Two-time Vuelta stage winner Tomasz Marczyński, 36, is also set to leave after five years at the team, as are 34-year-olds Sander Armée and Nikolas Maes. Jelle Wallays, Tosh Van der Sande and Brian Van Goethem are on the list too, as well as younger trio of Jonathan Dibben, Rémy Mertz and Rasmus Iversen.
The 10 men were said to have received notice of the news on Friday, days before the the UCI’s Joint Agreement renewal deadline: ‘Before September 30 prior to the end of the contract, if the contract has not already been renewed, each party shall inform the other in writing of their intentions as regards any renewal of the contract’. Contracts would be automatically renewed otherwise.
The move comes as the team faces a reported €2 million budget shortfall for next season with star riders Caleb Ewan, Thomas De Gendt, Philippe Gilbert (all under contract to 2022), Tim Wellens and John Degenkolb (both 2021) taking up a chunk of the future wage budget.
However, team boss John Lelangue told Het Nieuwsblad that the move is “not a matter of budget but one of philosophy. When I was appointed, I said that we would choose young riders.
“Why do we have a development team if we just let those riders go? All the riders we’re bringing had offers from other WorldTour teams and some, like Andreas Kron, had already proven something. They aren’t coming for a minimum contract.”
Van der Sande responded to the letter saying: “You don’t have to be a genius to realise that that letter is not good news. It’s the first time in my career that I received it”, while Wallays was surprised by the news: “Nobody said anything to me. As a person I find that difficult – just say it to my face.”
The team have already announced a number of new signings for 2021, though all names confirmed so far – barring Riwal’s Andreas Kron – will come on board as neo-pros.
Ronde de l’Isard winner Xandres Vervloesem will join from the Lotto Soudal U23 squad along with Sébastien Grignard, Harry Sweeney and Viktor Verschaeve will, while Sylvain Moniquet steps up from the Groupama-FDJ Continental team and Filippo Conca joins from Biesse Arvedi.
The move to let a third of the team’s existing riders go means that 23 riders are now under contract for 2021, with 14 of those men aged 25 or under.
Wellens signed a contract renewal with the team back in April, while Ewan and his key lead out men Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst extended to 2022 last winter and De Gendt penned an extension in July. Meanwhile, Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën) and Carl Frederik Hagen (Israel Start-Up Nation) have already agreed moves to other teams.