Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Lotto Soudal has announced Victor Campenaerts has signed a three-year deal to join the squad, thus returning to the team that he rode for in 2018 and 2019. Campenaerts was one of the most sought-after riders available the transfer market after Team Qhubeka-Nexthash announced it hasn’t signed a sponsor yet for next season.
“Of course, I was charmed by the many interested teams but the interesting project and the clear ambitions of Lotto Soudal convinced me,” the 29-year-old Belgian said.
“I immediately noticed the confidence the team gave me and of course, it’s also nice that I still know several riders and a lot of staff members. Therefore, I am looking forward to contributing to the attractive style of racing at Lotto Soudal, it is really exciting! It’s with great pleasure that I look back on the past two years at Team Qhubeka. It is more than a cycling team. The good cause that’s attached to the team – to give kids a better chance for education with bikes – is something that will be in my heart for my entire life.”
Campenaerts, the reigning UCI Hour Record holder, focused his efforts towards aggressive racing this past season. The new approach resulted in a thrilling battle in the Giro d’Italia where the Belgian just beat Oscar Riesebeek on the line of stage 15. He also was one of the most aggressive riders of the Benelux Tour, where he finished third in the general classification. It earned him a spot on the Belgian team for the world championships in Leuven.
“I really fell in love with the spring Classics and I want to continue down this road. This means to race attractively but also obtain results. Those two things often go hand in hand because sometimes it’s possible to create a scenario from which you can win races. And with many young riders like Brent Van Moer or Florian Vermeersch, there’s a lot of talent within the team. We can definitely play a role in the business end of the races.
“Obviously, I’ve taken a step back in time trialing but I still have the knowhow, of course. I want to pass this experience onto the young guys with ambitions in stage races. If I notice just a small margin for improvement, I won’t hesitate to share my expertise. Besides, I want to be an important tutor for the young riders to sharpen their race audacity. But I can also still learn a lot within Lotto Soudal from for example Philippe Gilbert, who’ll ride his final season next year.
“I realise that I won’t be able to compete for the win in let’s say the Ronde van Vlaanderen as I don’t have the distance in the legs just yet. That is why the main focus on training will be on improving my endurance. I want to evolve from a time trial effort of about an hour to a rider who can deal with the distance of the biggest Classics. Next season, I will thus mainly focus on the semi-Classics and short stage races.”
Campenaerts started his career with Topsport Vlaanderen like many Belgian riders, then moved to the Dutch LottoNL-Jumbo team before joining the Belgian Lotto Soudal team in 2018. The team gave him freedom to prepare for an attempt on the world hour record in the first half of 2019. His distance of 55 kilometers and 89 meters still stands.
Campenaerts is the fifth new signing for the team after young Belgian Arnaud De Lie from their own development team, Rüdiger Selig and Michael Schwarzmann from Bora-Hansgrohe and Jarrad Drizners from Hagens Berman Axeon.
Lotto-Soudal also announced on Tuesday that Ridley will stay onboard for the upcoming five seasons. The Belgian bike brand and Belgian WorldTour team sponsored by the national lottery have been partners since 2005.