WorldTeam We, Lotto Soudal

John Lelangue disgruntled: "Our team deserves more respect."
General 03 June 2021

Respect has to be earned. It is something you have to work for, every single day. Racing offensively is what defines our team. Attacking in the race, but not outside of it. The team has been racing offensively for 37 years, year after year. Our team undoubtedly deserves more respect than it gets.

What I read about our team after the Giro, in a column written by Jan Segers - an important ‘influencer-journalist’ in Flanders - in Het Laatste Nieuws makes me very sad. I was in shock for a while, I needed almost a week to think and consult with friends, staff, riders,… But “State team”? “Sheltered workshop” for riders, staff and management?

It wasn’t immediately the plan to finish the Giro d’Italia with two riders, Stefano Oldani and Harm Vanhoucke. If Harm didn’t crash, he probably would have won the Strade Bianche stage and made it three stage wins for the team. There are several teams that had to go home without a victory... Without Caleb Ewan’s abandon, even more would have been possible. His abandon during stage 8 definitely wasn’t planned. Caleb would and wanted to continue at least until stage 13 and target two more sprint stages. You have to take knee pain seriously. It is disrespectful that this was being questioned. We still need Caleb and he paves the way for our attackers, for those who make the race more attractive…

That at Lotto Soudal everything is justified, that everything is allowed? Riders and staff almost choked up on their coffee when reading this. Sometimes harsh words are spoken with us, too. Behind closed doors. It is our job to perform and this often requires a firm hand and an iron discipline. We do this on good terms and with mutual respect.

But perhaps it is like that, Lotto Soudal has a sympathetic image, surrounds riders and entourage with great care and respect. Attacking is part of the race and the race only.

I also wonder how our sponsors feel with such unjustified criticism. Lotto, Soudal and the other sponsors won’t stay on board that long if they wouldn’t support our vision. All our sponsors deserve more respect. Without Lotto, there wouldn’t be much left of the Belgian cycling sport. It isn’t just about our team, it is also about sponsoring cycling races, development teams, signallers and so on. It is just a fraction of the support in social projects by our sponsor Lotto. State money? Really? The Nationale Loterij isn’t subsidized by the government and so neither is the team. Also, it is not just out of love for cycling that Soudal and the other sponsors support us. They realise that, through the team, they make themselves known to the world. And they also feel at home with us.

Every day, we try to be a part of cycling in a positive and constructive way and of course, we can deal with criticism and try to learn something from it. Unfortunately, nobody gains from hollow claims and accusations that don’t have anything to do with our beautiful sport.

In any case, we continue to invest in cycling, in a sustainable and constructive manner.

We, Lotto Soudal.

John Lelangue
General Manager Lotto Soudal