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Lotto-Soudal name Tour de France team two months early

Joe Robinson
24 Jun 2020

Four team leaders to target Tour de France stage success for Lotto-Soudal, while Matt Holmes offered Grand Tour debut in Italy

The excitement of a return to bike racing stepped up a notch yesterday thanks to Lotto-Soudal announcing their eight-man team for the rearranged Tour de France.

The Belgian squad will take on the race with a quartet of leaders looking to target multiple stage victories during the rearranged Tour, which is set to take place from 29th August to 20th September.

Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan will lead the charge on the flat stages alongside double Monument winner John Degenkolb, who joined the team over the winter.

Mercurial breakaway artist Thomas de Gendt will be allowed to express himself when he so desires while five-time Monument winner Philippe Gilbert will be hoping to add to his sole Tour stage victory from 2011.

The team will also take the ever-attacking Tim Wellens, Tour debutant Stef Cras and Ewan's lead-out men, Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge.

Last year's Tour was a prosperous one for the Belgian side thanks to Ewan taking three stage wins and De Gendt bagging a solo win, too.

Talking on selection, team manager John Lelangue said there was 'no point' in waiting to announce their Grand Tour teams due to how the season has panned out.

'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,' explained Lelangue.

'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.'

Ewan and De Gendt will also be looking to double-up on Grand Tours in this now condensed season with both riders racing the Tour and then the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana respectively.

Lotto-Soudal will also hand British first-year WorldTour pro Matt Holmes a Grand Tour debut in Italy, contrary to the spot at the Vuelta he told Cyclist he expected to be given.

The Lancastrian burst onto the scene at the Tour Down Under in January, winning Stage 6 of the race to Willunga Hill, becoming the first rider to beat Richie Porte on the ascent in half a decade. 

For Gilbert, his first target will be Milan-San Remo, now set to take place on Saturday 8th August, the only Monument the Wallonian rider is yet to win.

Meanwhile, Degenkolb will lead the team's efforts with Gilbert at the Cobbled Classics now set to take place in October.