Tiesj Benoot looks set to leave Lotto-Soudal at the end of the 2019 season to join another WorldTour team, reports suggest.
Het Nieuwsblad reports that the 25-year-old is resolved to join a new team at the end of his contract, having first started his career as a trainee with Lotto in 2014. Turning pro the following year, Benoot has spent the past four seasons with the Belgian team, with 2019 his fifth and last.
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Benoot immediately impressed as a Classics rider in his first year, taking fifth place on his Tour of Flanders debut in 2015. Since then he has struggled to make the jump from top-10 finishes in races to victories, with third place at the 2016 E3 Harelbeke his best result until he finally took his first pro win in sensational style at a wet and muddy Strade Bianche in 2018.
Team Ineos were one of the teams strongly rumoured to be interested in the out-of-contract Belgian, with Lotto-Soudal unable to match their financial power despite wanting to keep him. The British team could see Benoot as the key to winning one of the cobbled Monuments, which they’ve struggled to do since their inception in 2010.
Ag2r La Mondiale, Movistar, Cofidis and Sunweb are also reportedly interested in Benoot, although Ag2r still need to secure their sponsor beyond 2021 while Cofidis have yet to move up to the WorldTour.
Benoot is currently riding the Tour de Suisse and is scheduled to ride the Tour de France in July alongside the likes of Thomas De Gendt, Tim Wellens and the team’s sprinter Caleb Ewan.
One man who won’t be at the Tour de France as things stand is John Degenkolb. The German sprinter is unlikely to ride with his Trek-Segafredo looking to fully back Richie Porte in his overall ambitions.
Degenkolb is likely to leave the team at the end of the year with Lotto-Soudal one of the teams trying to sign him, potentially in order to fill the Classics void left by Benoot’s exit.
Belgian site Het Nieuwsblad also reports that Degenkolb, winner of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, could join American WorldTour team EF Education First for 2020.