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Ewan, Gilbert, De Gendt and Degenkolb to lead Lotto Soudal at Tour de France

Caleb Ewan (AUS - Lotto Soudal) - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2020
Caleb Ewan at the UAE Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Lotto Soudal will target another haul of stage victories at the Tour de France, with Caleb Ewan, Thomas de Gendt, Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb all part of their eight-rider squad.

Also in the roster named by team manager John Lelangue are Tim Wellens, Ewan's trusted lead-out men Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge, and 24-year-old Steff Cras. Tomasz Marczynski and Frederik Frison are on the reserve list. 

Lotto Soudal had a successful Tour de France last year thanks to Ewan's victories in Toulouse, Nimes and Paris, while Thomas De Gendt won stage to 8 Saint-Étienne. The signing of Gilbert and Degenkolb gives them further options for attacks and tougher sprints. 

The Tour de France peloton should have been gathering in Nice this week for the Grand Départ on Saturday, June 27. However, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced a major revision of the calendar and the Tour has been rescheduled for August 29-September 20.

The Belgian WorldTour team confirmed that Ewan would also ride the Giro d'Italia, while De Gendt will also complete a Grand Tour double in the 71-day revised 2020 season, riding the Vuelta a España with Sander Armée, Tomasz Marczynski, Tosh Van der Sande and Harm Vanhoucke.

Norway's Carl Fredrik Hagen will lead Lotto Soudal's overall hopes in the corsa rosa after finishing eighth in the 2019 Vuelta a España.

Britain's Matthew Holmes and 24-year-old Belgian Kobe Goossens will make their Grand Tour debuts in Italy. Holmes joined Lotto-Soudal from the British Madison Genesis Continental team but immediately showed his talents by winning the stage to Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under.

"We're already announcing the Tour team because there's no point in waiting for the first races in August," Lelangue said. 

"It's already quite late and we know how our riders are preparing. Everyone has worked hard in recent weeks, we won't have surprises and we will continue to build to be ready for the Tour.

"There are fewer opportunities for the sprinters but they still have some chances. We have a lot of faith in Caleb, he's one of the fastest riders in the world. We've also got John Degenkolb as another important card. Importantly we've made clear agreements within the team."

A number of Lotto-Soudal riders have been training together in the Belgian Ardennes as the coronavirus lockdown rules ease across Europe, while others train at home. The Belgian team has opted against major training camps at altitude to avoid the risks of flying and extensive travel. Last week, Lotto-Soudal announced it would return to racing at Strade Bianche on August 1, using the Tour de Poland, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Wallonie as key build-up races in August.

Gilbert will target Milan-San Remo, the only monument Classics missing from his palmarès. He hopes to then use his form to target Liège-Bastogne Liège, the Amstel Gold Race, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

"I'll have to be super good from the beginning to the end of the season. My first goal is Milan-San Remo and so it can’t be my first race, that's why I'll ride the Strade Bianche on August 1 and Milan-Torino on August 5," he explained.