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No director yet for Lotto Soudal after Andrei Tchmil is turned down

The long-running Belgian team is facing WorldTour relegation and still does not have a general manager.

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Lotto Soudal, set to race as Lotto-Dstny in 2023, is still without a leader at the helm as backroom turmoil continues to rumble at the Belgian team.

The Belgian media reports that team backers turned down the candidacy of ex-pro Andrei Tchmil in his quest to run the team.

Tchmil was told he has “insufficient experience” to lead a cycling team, Het Laatste Nieuws reported Tuesday.

“I do not understand. I would accept it if they said that I am not a real Belgian, that I do not speak Dutch, that I do not live in Belgium. Not that I have no experience,” Tchmil told Het Laatste Nieuws.

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Tchmil, 59, raced for the Lotto franchise in the 1990s and retired in 2002 after winning such races as the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Milano-Sanremo.

Tchmil later ran the now-defunct Katusha team and served as sports minister at Moldova.

After turning down Tchmil, the long-running Belgian team still doesn’t have a manager to lead it in 2023 following the controversial departure of John Lelangue, who left this fall to take a post at the Tour de Pologne.

The uncertainty at the top of the team continues after Axel Merckx, who runs the Hagens Berman Axeon development team, took himself out of consideration for the role.

Going into 2023, the team is facing likely relegation out of the WorldTour, though the team will see invitations to the major races after being ranked just outside the top 18-ranked teams.

Het Laatste Nieuws also reported that the search for a new general manager is not being carried out by team staffers, but rather through a consultancy. A short list of candidates has been passed to the board of directors for consideration.

Tchmil offered himself to take on the job, but was turned down.

Lotto Soudal is currently led by sports manager Kurt Van de Wouwer and chief business officer Yana Seel.

Team backers, however, vow to stick with the team despite likely relegation.

For 2023, the team will see 24 riders. Top names such as Caleb Ewan, Arnaud De Lie, and Thomas De Gendt are staying, while Jacopo Guarnieri (Groupama-FDJ) and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma) join.