Red is back for Lotto-Soudal in 2022, with the Belgium team launching a new kit for next season that is reminiscent of the colours they wore up to 2018.
On Saturday, the squad also announced that promising young rider Florian Vermeersch had extended his contract to the end of 2024. His second-place finish at October's Paris-Roubaix was a breakout result in a rather lean year for the team.
Lotto will return to a mainly red strip after a couple of seasons where black was the seemingly dominant colour. Apart from a white band around the middle for the main sponsors, and black around the cuffs, the kit is all in the vibrant hue.
It is reasonably similar to the strip worn by the team between 2014 and 2018, the André Greipel years, and is paired with classic black shorts. The team no doubt hopes to bring back the success of those years, after they won just 12 races in 2021.
Vermeersch will be among the 27 riders donning the red gear in 2022. This year was his first full season with the WorldTour Lotto team, having graduated from their under-23 squad.
The young Belgian had a mixed season, with his classics campaign featuring six DNFs. However, he impressed at times, with his 16th-place being his team's best finish at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic.
Later in the season the 22-year old won the mountains classification at the Tour de Wallonie and achieved his first WorldTour top ten on stage two of the Vuelta a España. He successfully finished his first grand tour too.
After finishing third in the under-23 individual time trial at the World Championships in his native Belgium, Vermeersch impressed at Paris-Roubaix, being the final survivor of the early break and hanging on to clinch second in the famous velodrome, outsprinting Mathieu van der Poel.
"This contract extension gives me a lot of confidence towards the future”, he said in a team press release. "We share the same vision and it is nice to be part of an ambitious project in which a lot of youngsters can develop within a professional environment. I strongly believe in the quality and the build of a Classics team that can play a role in the most important races."
Vermeersch continued: "As a 22-year-old in a WorldTour team, you don’t always get the chance to immediately prove yourself. I’m really happy that I can discover my main strengths at Lotto Soudal, where I stepped up from the Development team. Apart from the confidence, it also creates a kind of family feeling. Through the years, you really bond with both the staff and riders, which was also an important factor towards a prolonged stay with the team.
"Next year, my focus will not only be on the Classics, I also want to improve my time trial skills. I think those two can be perfectly combined. And with a strong sprint, I have an additional weapon for the Classics. First and foremost, I hope to start the Classics next year in good shape and I want to show myself in the final”, the 22-year-old Belgian concludes.
The Belgian is one of only four riders with contracts through to 2024 at the team, alongside Victor Campernaerts, Jasper de Buyst and Caleb Ewan. Campenaerts returns to Lotto after two years with Qhubeka NextHash.
Also transferring to the squad are Rüdi Selig, Michael Schwarzmann and Cedric Beullens. There are further changes in the backroom staff, with former team boss Marc Sergeant and directeur sportif Herman Frison leaving. Allan Davies and Cherie Pridham have joined as directeurs sportif for 2022.
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