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Tour de France

Caleb Ewan: ‘I’ll be at Lotto-Soudal next year, unless they don’t want me’

Australian sprinter looks destined to stay with Lotto-Soudal but says he wants to strengthen his leadout train.

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Caleb Ewan poured cold water on the notion that he will leave Lotto-Soudal if the team is relegated at the end of the season.

The Belgian team is in a dogfight as it looks to remain in the WorldTour for 2023, but it’s facing dropping into the second tier based on the team’s current UCI points trajectory.

Such a scenario would in theory allow Ewan to absolve his contract and move to a rival team as most rider/team deals at the top level are based include a clause that the team is a WorldTour squad.

At the Tour de France this week, the Australian made clear his future remains on the Belgian squad he joined in 2019.

“Yes, unless they don’t want me. We’ve already spoken a lot about next year,” Ewan said when asked by VeloNews if he would be on Lotto-Soudal in 2023. “I definitely intend to stay here.”

In Ewan’s case there are a number of other important hurdles to overcome if he were to try and extract himself from the team, such as which squads could afford to match his current salary.

“I’ve not really thought about it [leaving] and doing a transfer in December is not the best thing,” he said.

“It’s always nice, especially when the season has finished to mentally prepare for the season ahead. I don’t want to be thinking about changing teams then,” Ewan said. “If I was going to do it I’d be already thinking about it now. At the moment things are going pretty well in the team. Obviously my results at the Giro and here haven’t been great but sometimes a season is like this. I’m confident that we can turn it around.”

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Ewan also argued that even if Lotto-Soudal is relegated at the end of the campaign his race program would not alter too much and that it might even help the team in certain areas.

“I have another two years with the team after this year. We’ve spoken a lot about the scenario of relegation with the team because obviously the races are the most important thing for me,” he said. “Even if we go down I don’t think that much will change because all the sponsors are committed to stay, and if we’re within the first two teams of the second tier, then we get all the starts that we want anyway.

“I don’t think that it’s going to make a huge difference. If anything it could be a bit of a benefit as sometimes we don’t have the depth in our team to line up at some races.”

Ewan wouldn’t mind some extra legs in the leadout train

Assuming he stays at Lotto-Soudal for 2023 Ewan may wish to beef up his leadout train for the coming season.

Ewan has been off-form and out of luck for the last few months but there have been questions about the depth and talent to his leadout train at the same time. The Australian stated that he and the management were always looking to improve but that there were no standout candidates on the transfer market at this point.

“I think that we’ll be looking for some more riders for the leadouts, as we do every year because we’re always looking to strengthen it. Maybe they need to step up in some performance areas but they know that. I think that there will be some changes,” he explained.

“There’s no one right now that I know is on the market that I really want. It’s generally after the Tour, like last year when we signed Rüdiger Selig and Michael Schwarzmann, it was later in the year so I guess everyone waits to see where the sprinters go first and then decide. That’s how the lead out transfer market works. I think that all the sprinters now will decide where they’re going to go and then the lead out men after.”