Ex-Lotto-Soudal boss takes scathing social media swipe at departing manager John Lelangue

Former manager Marc Sergeant accuses outgoing boss Lelangue of holing a beautiful ship and scarpering

Lotto Soudal
Marc Sergeant has been outspoken about Lelangue's management of the team
(Image credit: Tim De Waele / Getty Images)

Former Lotto-Soudal manager Marc Sergeant has laid into outgoing CEO John Lelangue in a thinly veiled tweet, saying he had put a hole in a beautiful ship. It was announced yesterday (Thurs) that Lelangue, who has been at the Belgian team since 2018, would leave, apparently by mutual consent.

Sergeant, who left Lotto at the end of last year after 15 years at the team, didn't name Lelangue in his tweet, but there was absolutely no mistaking who it was aimed at.

"Imagine you have a beautiful ship," he wrote in Flemish. "It is well maintained for decades yet you start to make a hole in it. As it is sinking you get a new boat, and then you quickly leave the sinking ship. #missionaccomplished #scandalous".

Sergeant's scathing words suggest he is still bristling at having fallen victim to last year's staff reshuffle, along with fellow longtime DS Herman Frison.

What's more, he has had to look on at a 2022 campaign that has been too little too late for the ailing team, with talismanic sprinter Caleb Ewan having been hit by crashes and not providing the wins that might be expected on the big stage. The team look almost certain to be relegated from the WorldTour at the end of the season, which turned into something of a defensive points battle between the bottom ranked teams.

Lelangue told Cycling Weekly earlier in the year that he'd rather leave than have to race that way.

"Our first aim is to take pleasure, to enjoy racing. To race with bravery, and to win races," said the 51-year-old. Of defensive racing he added: "Honestly, yes, it is like this. But if I'm doing this, I will not take pleasure in racing, and I would prefer to change jobs."

Sporza reported that Lelangue chose to leave Lotto, with Jannie Haek, the CEO of the Belgian National Lottery, who are one of the backers of the team, stating: “It was a decision by John Lelangue to leave the team, but we do it on the best of terms.”

A statement from the team however said the decision had been made by "mutual agreement", and that a successor had not been appointed yet. There has been speculation that it might be Axel Merckx, who currently runs the Hagens Berman Axeon development team.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.