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Thomas De Gendt: We can’t only rely on Arnaud De Lie to get back into WorldTour

Belgian veteran believes that consistency is the key in getting Lotto Dstny back into the WorldTour in 2026.

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Thomas De Gendt says that Lotto-Dstny cannot put all of its hopes into Arnaud De Lie and the team’s other young riders if it hopes to return to the WorldTour in 2026.

De Lie has been the outstanding rider for the squad over the last 18 months and has been by far its top performer so far this season. The team has also recently promoted rising young star Alec Segaert to its elite squad.

However, De Gendt believes that it needs to be a full team effort so as not to exhaust the likes of De Lie and allow the young riders to take their time.

“You cannot only rely on Arnaud and the young guys, you have to also give them some space to recover, and then it’s also up to the other guys to fill in the spots and take the points,” De Gendt told VeloNews. “We have to look at Caleb [Ewan] also to start winning again. He’s normally a guy that should win 15 races in a year and now it’s already been two years that he has won a bit less. He’s still winning races, but not as much as we hope for him to do.”

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Lotto-Dstny found itself in the eye of the storm of the UCI’s new promotion and relegation system last season. Despite some frantic changes to the roster and altering the race schedule to try and mop up as many points as possible, the team was ultimately demoted to the ProTour.

They were afforded a small cushion that guaranteed invitations to all WorldTour races, except for grand tours, during the first season following relegation. It means that the squad had some certainty for the year ahead.

While there will not be too much difference on the calendar, there have been some big changes in the team with a significant overhaul of the roster and Stéphane Heulot coming in as the new CEO. For now, De Gendt doesn’t think it has made too much of a difference, but that could change in the coming seasons.

“Nothing has really changed that much. We just prepared ourselves like we did every year. Except for the logo on the shirt, nothing has changed,” De Gendt said. “The team was already made for this year so even with the new CEO, nothing much has changed, yet. His job is, especially for the next years, to get a good group together.”

After getting caught out by the new rules last year — despite them already being in place for two seasons — the Belgian team is determined not to get caught out by them again. The imminent threat of relegation or failure to get promoted is not looming over the squad’s head, but De Gendt is hoping that a consistent performance across the three seasons will make life far less stressful.

Two months into the season, Lotto-Dstny is sitting ninth in the rankings with De Lie leading the charge for the squad.

“I think now it’s more important because now we have to fight for our spot every year again to be in the top two of the ProTeam,” De Gendt said. “Every year, it’s something that we have to fight for but we are in first position at the moment and if we just keep riding like we do now then I don’t see any really big issues.

“It’s something that we really need to work for every year, and after that, the three years of points will be high anyway. If you get into the top two of the ProTeam then we will get our spot in the WorldTour again.”

As well as helping the team get points and climb back into the WorldTour, De Gendt has his own personal targets for this season.

“I would like to win a race somewhere, but first I would like to get the good legs again and that good feeling, which is coming. I just want to try and win a race and guide the young guys as much as possible and help them in the search for good results,” he said.

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