Lotto Soudal have selected young sprinter Arnaud De Lie, Victor Campenaerts and Caleb Ewan as they look to score as many points as possible in the one-day Circuit Franco-Belge race as they fight to avoid relegation from the WorldTour.
The Belgian team have played down suggestions its puts points before victories but have changed their racing programme to maximise the points they can score in the final three months of the 2022 season.
Campenaerts and other Lotto Soudal riders have opted not to ride the European Championships so they can focus on scoring points in the next two weeks. Ewan will not ride the Vuelta a España and after recent surgery to remove a plate from his collarbone, he will target the Bemer Cyclassics Hamburg and other point-rich one-day races before heading to Australia for the World Championships.
Lotto Soudal are one of five WorldTour teams confirmed for the end of season Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. The race is the final event of the 2022 season and will decide who is relegated from the 2023 WorldTour. Lotto-Soudal are now less than 700 from 18th place in the ranking and could soon overtake Movistar and Cofidis.
Campenaerts played down the importance of the UCI ranking points on Sunday when he won the Tour de Leuven but Lotto Soudal scored a total of 196 points in the race, boosting their morale and their fight against relegation.
20-year-old De Lie has already won seven races in his debut season with Lotto Soudal and will hope he can survive on the rolling roads of southern Belgium. De Lie is also the leader of the Exterioo series. Also riding are Brent Van Moer, Jasper De Buyst, Cedric Beullens and Sébastien Grignard.
Ewan was forced to have surgery to remove a plate on his collarbone immediately after the Tour de France. He missed the Commonwealth Games road race at the weekend but is back racing on Wednesday.
“I am really happy to be able to race again after the Tour de France. My shoulder and arm were bothering me for quite some months and hopefully this issue has been resolved now,” he said.
“I have to be realistic: due to the surgery and the mandatory week of rest I obviously lost a bit of shape. So immediately battling for victory will be difficult but it is a nice race to get the legs going again and prepare for the next part of the season.
“The first goal is the Bemer Cyclassics Hamburg on 21 August, followed by the five-day Deutschland Tour. After that, I will most likely race a couple of one-day events to hopefully focus on the World Championships in Australia afterwards.”
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