Lotto-Soudal World Tour hopes dim

Thrown into a hellish chase with the aim of retaining the World Tour, the Belgian outfit have seen their opponents rack up big points in recent weeks, almost dooming them to relegation. For Israel Premier Tech, the descent is already registered.

The Lotto-Soudal team will not keep an imperishable memory of this September. Committed for several months in the fight for their permanence on the World Tour, the Belgian formation believed in an incredible comeback when Arnaud De Lie, their young sprinter, walked on water in the middle of August.

Problem, the Vuelta and the World Cup have been there. the second place for Enric Mas in the Vuelta a España he gave a breath of fresh air to Eusébio Unzué’s Movistar. Worse still for Lotto-Soudal, the bronze medal snatched by Michael Matthews on the roads of Wollongong brought 400 points to the Australian Bike Exchange team. Finally, Simone Consonni (Cofidis) took 125 points from Sunday’s victory over Paris Chauny when Arnaud De Lie was content with fifth place. All these results place Marc Sergeant’s team in a precarious situation.

943 points to complete in three weeks…

Three weeks before the end gong of three years of points accumulation rings, the game seems to be finished, although mathematically speaking, maintenance is still accessible. For Israel Premier Tech, the ax is inevitable with almost 2,000 points behind the 18th and last save. The early August recruitment of Dylan Teuns, Fleche Wallonne winner this season, it has not had the desired effect.

Already lagging behind before the Vuelta, Chris Froome’s formation has completely sunk in Spain. The meager 60 points earned were earned by riders, Hagen and Impey, who are not in the top 10 of the team in total UCI points earned during the season and are therefore not counted. The Vuelta a España, therefore, did not mean points for the team. Disaster.

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The challenges of the end of the season

Only Lotto-Soudal is still clinging to the slim hope of being among the top 18 teams. He is also completely absent from the Vuelta (eight units collected, none by the top ten riders on the squad, therefore zero on the team’s balance sheet) and by not having released his riders for the World Cup, Caleb Ewan’s team paid dearly the success of their direct opponents in these two events: 1,033 additional points for Movistar, 760.33 for EF Educación EasyPost and 668.5 points for Bike Exchange.

Betting on lower category races that offer 125 (or 200) points per win and often a lower plateau, the Belgians will have to storm the last events of the season to hope for a miraculous hold.

It would take a sports miracle

Not counting the points awarded to the runners-up and stage winners at the Tour of Langkawi, there are still 2,950 points to be bagged. An obviously extremely theoretical total but that highlights the possibilities yet to be exploited by the rojiblancos. Furthermore, his schedule is particularly busy with 17 races still on the schedule. Only the Tour of Croatia (broadcast on the L’Équipe channel), the Vendée and the Veneto Classic are not on his agenda.

For this season finale, the best cartridges are called Tim Wellens, Arnaud De Lie and Caleb Ewan. The three men will share the tasks: the mountainous profiles for the first, the promised races in a sprint for the other two.

The Belgian will be lined up throughout the Italian part of the calendar. As for the two sprinters, they will surely alternate in the races in Belgium, Germany and France. If Tim Wellens was a serious customer in his best years (fourth in the 2014 Lombardy, sixth in the 2018 Amstel Gold Race, for example), he seems to be far from his best form. Eighth at the start of the season at Strade Bianche, the 31-year-old failed to perform in the Ardennes (20th at Amstel as best finish) and had to miss both Canadian classics in early September due to heart problems. Authorized to run again, the flamingo would surprise if he managed to score important points.

Salvation, if it happens, could therefore come from the pair of sprinters. Impressive for his first year with the pros (9 wins but none in the World Tour class), Arnaud De Lie, however, struggled to score in September. Beaten on Sunday in Paris Chauny (5th), sixth in the Gooikse Pijl and second in the Houtland circuit, the 20-year-old driver is present but can no longer hit the target.

Caleb Ewan may be the key asset. In bad shape for a long time, the Aussie is showing up late in the year, as evidenced by his victory at the Fourmies GP and his second place in the Flanders Championship. With two riders of this caliber, the Belgian team can aspire to score a lot of points in the four 1.1 tests and two Pro tests (200 units for the winner) a priori favorable to the sprinters (Classique des Ardennes, Tour Munsterland, Binche-Chimay- Binche, Paris-Bourges, GP Van Steenbergen, Paris-Tours). It will still take a great combination of circumstances for Lotto-Soudal to send Arkéa-Samsic or Cofidis below the waterline.


The percentage of points that Arnaud De Lie represents in the Lotto-Soudal 2022 total.

Especially since the latter two obviously have advantages up their sleeves: Hugo Hofstetter and Nairo Quintana on the Breton side, or Bryan Coquard and Guillaume Martin on the Northern side, to name just a few. For Lotto, the mission promises to be almost impossible sportingly speaking.

The court, true hope of the Lotto?

Perhaps the best chance to keep the Belgians is in court! Disqualified from the Tour de France for two positive controls for TramadolNairobi Quintana appealed of this decision. A suspensive appeal that temporarily allows Arkéa to keep the 455 points acquired by the Colombian on the roads of the Grande Boucle.

In the event of an unfavorable decision for the “Nairoman”, the Breton formation would see its total cut by these points, halving its advantage (from 943 points to 488 units). A delay that becomes more possible to fill for Arnaud De Lie and his companions. Justice could decide this case in 2023, enough to give the UCI some gray hair if the Lotto ends up less than 455 points behind Arkéa…

Will Israel Premier Tech be absent from the Grand Tours next season?

If the top two Pro Teams in 2022 (tier 2, including World Tour teams relegated at the end of this season) are guaranteed to compete in the prestigious events next season, this will not be the case for the other teams.
However, at present, the Israeli team is in third place in this ranking behind Lotto-Soudal and TotalEnergies. A position that would guarantee him an automatic invitation to the World Tour classics but not to the Grand Tours. Chris Froome’s training would then be subject to the good will of the organizers. Far from being a guarantee of security, the latter usually prefers to give way to a selection.

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