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John Lelangue leaves Lotto-Soudal with team facing relegation

Axel Merckx linked with the role but he denies talking to the team yet.

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John Lelangue is set to leave Lotto-Soudal by “mutual consent” at the end of the season with the Belgian team teetering on the cusp of WorldTour relegation.

Sporza reported that the 51-year-old chose to leave, with Jannie Haek, the CEO of the Belgian National Lottery, stating: “It was a decision by John Lelangue to leave the team, but we do it on the best of terms.”

Lotto-Soodal’s chief business officer Yana Seel confirmed the news directly to VeloNews, while also ruling herself out of taking the job.

“It’s confirmed by our board of directors and by the CEO of the National Lottery. It was the common decision and yes he’s leaving the team. He will leave at the end of the season,” she told VeloNews.

“I’m staying with the team and to avoid any kind of misunderstanding I’m not the candidate to take his role. I love my job and I will continue to focus on business development, marketing, communications and sponsorship. I have a huge responsibility for the team but I’m not the candidate to take over. The board of directors are busy with recruitment at the moment and they will look for someone. I want to thank John for all his work during the last four years. I wish him all the best for his personal future as well.”

Also read: Analysis: The unintended consequences of the UCI’s relegation game

Lelangue took over at Lotto-Soudal following a turbulent period for the team. He replaced Paul De Geyter in the role of team manager after the Belgian was let go after just a year in charge. De Geyter had been brought in to take over from the long-serving boss at the time Marc Sergeant.

When Lelangue took over in 2019 he was set the task of improving the roster and the organization as a whole. However, the results on the road have been disappointing with few highlights since he took over. The team sits near the bottom of the UCI rankings and is set to be relegated from next year’s top-tier of 18 teams.

Arnaud De Lie has been a bright spark for the team but several veterans were handed long-term deals and never delivered results, while Caleb Ewan hit a rough patch this year and failed to win a stage in either the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France.

Belgian media have speculated that Axel Merckx is in line to take over. However the former Lotto-Soudal rider told VeloNews that he had not been in contact with the team.

“No. I read the news like you,” he texted when asked if he had been in contact with the team.

VeloNews has learned that Lotto-Soudal has earmarked Merckx as a candidate but that an approach to discuss the job was only made in the last 72 hours, so not talks have taken place at this point.