John Lilang (51) will no longer be Lotto Soudal CEO after this season. The Belgian WorldTour team – officially in consultation with Lelangue – decided to end the collaboration. Lelangue says he made the decision himself and will be “maintaining continuity” until the end of this season. This was confirmed to our editors on Thursday afternoon. It is not yet clear who will be Lelangue’s successor, although Axel Merckx’s name has already been in circulation.
Lotto Soudal is trying to achieve the impossible in the last races of the year, but realizes that the chance of relegation from the World Tour is real. The plan is now to block the next three years with wildcards for the most important races, after which they want to upgrade to the WorldTour again in 2026. In order to realize this track, they no longer see the right person in the right place in John Lelangue. The team – De Captains of Cycling cv – will search for a candidate with the right competencies with a recruitment agency.
I made the decision myself
In the meantime, Lelangue himself has contacted our editorial team and provided some additional information about his impending departure from Lotto-Soudal. He asserts that he himself made the decision to leave the team. “I really made my decision during the tour,” says Lelangue. In August I announced my decision to the Board of Directors. This is definitely not related to an extended company on a world tour or not. I decided that after four years I had accomplished my mission and that I was ready for a new challenge.”
Lilang also explained why he made his decision to leave Lotto Soudal, he said. “We have restructured the team, invested in performance and youth work. U23 will soon become a continental team and the women’s team is fully integrated. Now that my sponsor contract with Soudal has expired and a new sponsor has been signed with Dstny, this seemed like the perfect moment for me to start something new. We are leaving as better friends than when I started with the team and I am working to continue my work with the team until the last day so that everything is ready to start next season as it should.”
Lelangue remains ambiguous about his new challenge at the moment. “Starting on January 1, I will be starting a new challenge within the World Tour. I can’t say exactly what that means at the moment.”
The landing is imminent
Lelangue’s departure comes as Lotto Soudal, Lotto Dstny next year, threatens to be relegated from WorldTour. As head of the cycling team, the general manager has brought big names like Philip Gilbert and John Degenkolb on board in recent years, but the performances have been disappointing. Last season, the team was able to catch up again, thanks in part to the development of Arnaud De Lie. However, she did not get out of the swamp of landing.
Lilang was previously the team manager at Phonak and BMC. He has also worked with the tour operator ASO and the International Cycling Union (UCI).