Tim Wellens took out one of the biggest victories of his career when he beat Alberto Contador on the final stage of Paris-Nice last weekend. Off the back of that performance, the young Belgian has extended his contract with the Lotto-Soudal team for another year.
Wellen’s current contract with Lotto-Soudal was due to end next season, and this new deal secures his place in the squad until at least the end of 2018. “Since I became a professional cyclist in 2012, my contract has been prolonged a few times, and I never got to the final year of my contract. Such a season can cause stress sometimes, but so far I never had to experience that,” Wellens said in a team press release.
“The team made the suggestion for a contract extension, and that gives me a good feeling of course, but I won’t lean back. I’m very happy that the team confirms its confidence in me so I can keep building my way to the top. My goals won’t change due to this extension, year by year we discuss which races I need to focus on.”
The 24-year-old Wellens has been with Lotto-Soudal for his entire career, since joining their development squad in 2010. He made the step up to the professional team in 2013, and he says that he would not consider moving squads at this point.
“I don’t care if I get offers from other teams. Lotto Soudal is the best team to develop myself,” he said. In this team, young riders get chances. I was able to become a protected rider here, in other teams this would be less likely. The young Belgians such as Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Louis Vervaeke and myself stimulate each other to become better riders and also the cooperation with the more experienced riders is very good. We motivate and trigger each other. The perfect mix.”
As well as his recent stage win at Paris-Nice, Wellens has racked up a number of big victories in his short career. Last season saw him take his second overall title at the Eneco Tour ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), and he beat Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) to win the GP Cycliste de Montreal.
“The team really wants Tim to be part of Lotto Soudal during the following years and also Tim looks forward to this. Then it’s logical that we come to a long-term agreement thanks to which both parties can fulfil their ambitions,” said team manager Marc Sergeant. “The progression that Tim has made since he’s a professional cyclist is impressive. No one can predict how much potential he has, but in my opinion, Tim can become an established name in the one-day races which suit him. Besides that, we’ll have to discover which limits and possibilities he has in the short and long stage races.”
Wellens is due to resume racing at Milan-San Remo this weekend.