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Tim Wellens could be riding alongside Tadej Pogačar and João Almeida next summer.
The news furthers previous rumors that Wellens was eyeing a ride in new colors as he nears the end of his contract with Lotto-Soudal this fall.
- Senior Lotto-Soudal manager quits, Tim Wellens reportedly wants to leave
- Wellens wins early in Mallorca
With stage wins at the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España and GC victories across a number of top races, Wellens would add further power to a UAE Emirates roster stacked with strength and growing every year.
The team spent deep last winter, scooping leading riders like Almeida, George Bennett, Marc Soler, and Pascal Ackermann as it gave backing to Pogačar and added options elsewhere.
Wellens will likely play superdomestique rather than enjoy the freedom he enjoyed as a leading light at Lotto-Soudal.
The Belgian’s experience in the hilly classics and the Tour of Flanders would fill the gap in a UAE roster focused on stage racing as Pogačar stretches his legs further into the one-days after debuting at De Ronde this spring.
Wellens turned pro with Lotto-Soudal in 2012 and has been a mainstay of the team ever since. The 31-year-old saw a grand tour every season since 2014 until illness forced him out of last summer’s Tour de France.
His exit would leave a gap in a team also likely to be suffering the loss of top staff next year. Valerie D’Haeze, second-in-command behind team chief John Lelangue, reportedly handed in her resignation last month.
Lotto-Soudal is currently in the grips of a struggle for WorldTour survival in a crucial relegation season.
Currently way down the ladder of WorldTour teams and facing the possibility of life in the second-division ProTour next year, Lotto-Soudal could be a very different place in 2023.