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Thomas De Gendt extends with Lotto Soudal

Thomas De Gendt wins stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Thomas De Gendt wins stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Breakaway expert Thomas De Gendt has extended his contract with Lotto Soudal for two more seasons as the Belgian team begin to build for the future.

Several riders have lamented the lack of contract news after initial offers before the COVID-19 pandemic. New deals were put on hold as 25 members of team staff were furloughed to save costs. 

The news of De Gendt's contract indicates that the Belgian team plans continuity for the future. Philippe Gilbert and Caleb Ewan both have contracts that run until at least 2022, while John Degenkolb's contract runs until the end of 2021.

De Gendt is seen as a cornerstone of the team, his audacious but calculated breakaway attempts matched by his love for the sport and loyalty to the Lotto Soudal team. 

De Gendt and several teammates are currently training in the French Vosges mountains before his expected return to racing at the Tour de Pologne in early August.  

De Gendt has won multiple Grand Tour stages, including stage 8 of the 2019 Tour de France to Saint-Étienne. He rode the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2019 and has secured a place in Lotto Soudal's squad for the 2020 Tour de France in September.

"It was so obvious for me. It never entered my mind to change teams. Why should I?" De Gendt said confirming his new deal.

"I know this house already for six years. Honestly, I have never been interested in another team. Lotto Soudal knows me and gives me the freedom I need, a freedom that I would never get somewhere else. In the past, we have won many nice races together. I am convinced that together we still have nice years ahead of us.

"For the Classics we have other champions such as Philippe Gilbert, Tim Wellens and John Degenkolb. I will help them where I can. My personal dream is to win a stage in the 10 biggest stage races. As I have already won in Catalunya, Paris-Nice, Suisse, Romandie and Dauphiné, I just miss Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta al País Vasco. Unfortunately, this will not be possible in 2020 but I hope to achieve it in the coming years, with the support of the team."

Lotto Soudal team manager John Lelangue has been under pressure in recent weeks as the Belgian media reported on tension within the team, but he promised more rider announcements soon.    

"I am happy to see that Thomas loves his current environment. He can win races but is a perfect team player as well," Lelangue said.

"This contract extension is good for the stability and continuity of the team. Thomas understands that Lotto Soudal really have a vision. Moreover, he has been so successful and loyal to the team. We need him. With Thomas we continue to build on the team’s future. More agreements will be announced soon."