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Lotto Soudal scores two new signings to reinforce under-pressure roster

Qhubeka-NextHash alumni Barbero and Janse van Rensburg join injury-riddled Belgian squad in make-or-break relegation season.

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What better combination than two out-of-contract WorldTour veterans and a team in desperate need of reinforcements?

Qhubeka-NextHash alumni Carlos Barbero and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg signed for Lotto Soudal in a rare mid-season move this week.

“Just like every team this year, we have had a lot of sicknesses. Therefore, we were not able to get a complete squad at the start of every race,” said team CEO John Lelangue. “Also, with Kamil Malecki and Jarrad Drizners we have two riders who will be out with injuries for a long time. We had to reinforce our team to be able to do the racing program we have planned.”

Barbero, 30, and South African champion Janse van Rensburg, 33, were left in the wilderness when Qhubeka-NextHash folded this winter.

Meanwhile, the sickness-stricken Lotto Soudal, the team of Caleb Ewan, Tim Wellens, Philippe Gilbert, and Victor Campenaerts, is scrambling for results. This year is a make-or-break season where the total UCI points amassed from the past three years of racing dictate promotion or relegation to the WorldTour – and Lotto is in peril.

Also read: The ‘Relegation Watch’ and what it means for WorldTour licenses

It was a match made in heaven.

“They [Barbero and Janse van Rensburg] are experienced, race-ready, and very motivated,” Lelangue said. “We will give them a chance until the end of the season and believe that they will fit in this team very well. They are grateful for the chance they are given and I am sure that they will prove their value for our young team.”

Lotto Soudal is currently dangling far down the bottom of the WorldTour points table and under serious threat of being shuffled down to the second-tier ProSeries in 2023.

Barbero and Janse van Rensburg won’t bring their previous WorldTour points into Lotto’s haul, and only points accumulated once they start racing for the team will count to the oh-so-crucial season-ending total.

However the pair’s addition – and their ability to reap results – just ahead of pro cycling’s stacked summer schedule could prove crucial in a make-or-break season for the top-tier’s minnow teams.