For three years, the Lotto-Soudal sprint train was stuck on the rails. The trio Ewan-De Buyst-Kluge was inseparable in the big rounds, but now the Siamese triplets are surgically pulled apart. “It is difficult without experience together,” predicts ex-top sprinter Marcel Kittel.

Since joining Lotto Soudal in 2019, Caleb Ewan has started six Grand Tours. German Roger Kluge was by his side in as many Grand Tours. Jasper De Buyst was present in five of the six cases – only for the last Giro he had to drop out injured.

The Ewan train has been very successful in the Giro and Tour in recent years. The Australian achieved 9 stage victories (5 in the Tour, 4 in the Giro) after preparatory work by the German-Belgian pilot. The engine stalled in the last two rounds, partly due to rapid falls. So now they opt for change.

The history of the Ewan train near Lotto

Tour 2022 Janse van Rensburg Vermeersch Frison
Giro 2022 Selig Kluge schwartzmann 0 victories (statement of stage 12)
Tour 2021 The Buys Kluge Van der Sande 0 victories (statement of stage 4)
Giro 2021 The Buys Kluge Oldania 2 victories (resignation stage 8)
Tour 2020 The Buys Kluge Frison 2 wins
Tour 2019 The Buys Kluge keukeleire 3 wins
Giro 2019 The Buys Kluge Van der Sande 2 wins (statement of stage 12)

Training is not enough

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg will be Ewan’s new lead-out. The South African was without a team a few months ago and was only fished out by Lotto-Soudal on 1 May. He only once functioned as a pilot for the Australian sprint bomb.

Brent Van Moer, Florian Vermeersch and Frederik Frison will divide the further preparation work.

“I definitely think it’s a risk to take a whole new train to the Tour,” Marcel Kittel told Sporza. “A sprinter likes a fixed pattern. And certainly in the Tour you have to be able to rely on your teammates.”

“You can practice the sprint train on stage, but you cannot simulate the hectic pace and everything that comes with a race. You have to test that in competitions. In the first stages it may be a bit of a search for Ewan.”

Marcel Kittel won no less than 14 Tour stages in his career.

Drop off at the last two kilometers

However, the trail means there isn’t much time to search. “Winning fast is always important, but in this Tour more than ever. There aren’t that many chances. In the first week there are two chances, but after that it’s just a matter of waiting until stage 19,” explains Kittel.

“It will be difficult, but of course it is not impossible. Ewan is good at positioning, but in the Tour you always need a little help in the super fast finals.”

“Maybe he should just use his own teammates to start the last two kilometers in a good position and then do his own thing,” said Kittel.

Maybe it’s a factor that Roger Kluge hasn’t renewed his contract with Lotto yet.

Marcel Kittel

It is not entirely clear why Lotto made this choice. It is no big surprise that Jasper De Buyst is not there: he is not yet back at his old level after a collarbone and pelvic fracture. But Roger Kluge basically has no physical ailments.

“I’m sorry for Roger. Maybe it’s a factor that his contract hasn’t been extended yet,” Kittel thinks aloud. “In any case, it is a sign that Lotto wants to change, also in the sprint train.”

“If a team is not running and is in a situation like Lotto’s, there is a lot of pressure and uncertainty. At a moment when you actually have to stay very cool, you are not. That is the case with the framework, but also with the riders.”

ride date type of ride start-finish total winner leader
1 individual time trial Copenhagen – Copenhagen 13.2 km
2 road race Roskilde – Nyborg 202.2 km
3 road race Vejle – Sonderborg 182 km
4 road race Dunkirk – Calais 171.5 km
5 road race Lille – Arenberg 157 km
6 road race Binche – Longwy 219.9 km
7 road racesemi mountain stage Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles 176.3 km
8 road racesemi mountain stage Dole – Lausanne 186.3 km
9 road racesemi mountain stage Aigle – Chatelo 192.9 km
10 road racesemi mountain stage Morzine – Megeve 148.1 km
11 road racemountain stage Albertville – Col du Granon 151.7 km
12 road racemountain stage Briancon – Alpe d’Huez 165.1 km
13 road racesemi mountain stage Le Bourg-d’Oisans – Saint-Etienne 192.6 km
14 road racesemi mountain stage Saint Etienne – Mendea 192.5 km
15 road racesemi mountain stage Rodez – Carcassonne 202.5 km
16 road racesemi mountain stage Carcassonne – Foix 178.5 km
17 road racemountain stage Saint-Gaudens – Peyragudes 129.7 km
18 road racemountain stage Lourdes – Hautacam 143.2 km
19 road race Castelnau-Magnoac – Cahors 188.3 km
20 individual time trial Lacapelle-Marival – Rocamadour 40.7 km
21 road race Paris La Defense Arena – Paris 115.6 km
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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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