Lotto Soudal has announced the signing of Lawrence Naesen, younger brother of AG2R-La Mondiale's Belgian champion Oliver, on a two-year deal. The 25-year-old has raced at Pro-Continental level in 2017 with WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect after two seasons at Continental level with the Cibel team.
The majority of Naesen's race days in 2017 have been one-day races with third place at Ride Bruges his best result of the season. While Lawrence Naesen is full of praise for his brother's role in the development of his career, he explained it was important to forge his own path in the WorldTour.
"It's a dream for each sportsman to perform on the highest level," Naesen said. "That dream is coming true for me and that's wonderful. It's going fast, because I only started cycling when I was twenty. It was my brother who instigated me to get on the bike and I immediately enjoyed it. Oliver also helped me to find my first team. My brother played an important role in the fact that I have become a cyclist. I have deliberately chosen not to ride with him in the same team though. I want to have my own pro career."
Naesen added that prior knowledge of Lotto Soudal's riders and the staff was key to inking the deal with the Belgian squad.
"There are several reasons why I wanted to sign a contract with Lotto Soudal. Riding in a Belgian team is special for a Belgian rider. I also know several riders in the team and that will help me to set this new step," he said.
Lotto Soudal's sports manager Marc Sergeant added that he sees Naesen as a rider of potential and was quick to move to ensure a rival WorldTour team couldn't sign him up. Sergeant added that he expects the versatile rider to become a key rider in the Lotto set up and is excited to begin the relationship.
"Lawrence hasn't been racing that long, but he has already shown he has guts. And let that be something we missed in the first part of this season," Sergeant said. "We hope that someone like Lawrence can give a boost to the team. Of course we will give him sufficient time to grow. He has the capabilities to become a valuable WorldTour rider. He nor we know his limits, but we didn't want to let him slip through our fingers. Of all riders that weren't part of the World Tour the past season, he is one of the riders who has shown the most potential. I am very glad to have him in our team next year. First of all to reinforce our team in the spring, but Lawrence is capable of riding a very broad programme and we'll see where that takes us together."
Lotto-Soudal has also confirmed the signing of Victor Campenaerts (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) from 2018 while farewelling Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jürgen Roelandts (BMC Racing), Kris Boeckmans (Vital Concepts), Louis Vervaeke (Team Sunweb), Sean De Bie (Veranda's Willems - Crelan).
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