Tom Boonen’s future as an advisor at the Lotto Soudal team is in doubt after new general manager John Lelangue said the former rider was ‘not part of my plan’ for 2019. Boonen's current contract with the team does not extend into next season, and while Lelangue did not discount utilising Boonen in the future, he had not decided in what capacity.
"At the moment Tom is not part of my plan," Lelangue told Het Nieuwsblad. "I will definitely talk to him because with his palmares and his personality, he is someone who can definitely add value to the team. Only he must have a full function for this and at the moment it is not clear to me how exactly we can fill it."
Boonen was a surprise addition as a sports advisor to the Lotto Soudal team earlier this year, having spent almost his entire racing career with Belgian rivals Quick-Step Floors, though he had links with the team. The newly-appointed general manager at the time, Paul De Geyter, had been Boonen’s agent during his career, while his father works with Lotto Soudal’s bike supplier Ridley.
However, it was announced at the start of October that De Geyter’s short tenure with the team would come to an end. De Geyter had been brought in to replace Marc Sergeant who was stepping into a more sporting role. De Geyter’s time with the team was fraught and saw the departure of Andre Greipel and several other riders. His failure to sign up-and-coming Classics star Wout van Aert and a dearth of new sponsors contributed to his departure.
Lelangue was confirmed as De Geyter’s replacement a day after the split was confirmed. It is the first time he will work directly with a team since he left BMC Racing Team following the 2013 Tour de France. Lelangue officially began his new role with Lotto Soudal on November 15 and this week he held a coaching day for the team staff and management, while the first winter training camp will be held in Spain in early December.