Lotto-Soudal have revealed that world hour record holder, Victor Campenaerts, will be returning to the team after three seasons away at Qhubeka-NextHash, who are struggling to find a sponsor for 2022.
After leaving Lotto-Soudal at the end of the 2019 season after four years with the team, Campenaerts is one of the many Qhubeka riders forced to search for a new contract due to the financial uncertainty at the South African squad.
The team run by Doug Ryder has told their riders to look for new teams for 2022, as they missed the first deadline to apply for WorldTour status, with Campenaerts able to find a home with his old team on a three-year contract.
The 29-year-old Belgian has won eight times in his career, but only once with Qhubeka, a stage at the Giro d'Italia in 2021, out-sprinting Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) from the breakaway on stage 15, which finished in Slovenia.
Campenaerts spoke of his excitement to re-join Lotto-Soudal: "Obviously I was charmed by the great interest from different teams, but the interesting project and the clear ambitions of Lotto-Soudal were the deciding factor."
"I immediately felt confidence," he continued, "and it is of course also nice that in addition to a few riders, I also know many staff members well. I'm really looking forward to contributing to Lotto-Soudal's attractive way of racing, it's really exciting!
"I look back with great pleasure on the past two years at Qhubeka-NextHash. It is more than a cycling team. The good cause associated with the team – giving children a chance for better education by bicycle – I will always have a warm heart for."
Qhubeka-NextHash, previously NTT Pro Cycling, exists to support South African non-profit organisation Qhubeka, which provides bikes to the communities throughout Africa.
Team boss Doug Ryder, confirmed last week that his team are very keen to continue as a squad, but they need sponsors and fast with Ryder publicly asking for support from companies.
Having struggled to find sponsors last year, Qhubeka was saved at the last minute thanks to a new contract with Swiss clothing company Assos, who joined the team as a headline sponsor.
On the eve of the 2021 Tour de France, the team then announced a new headline sponsor to replace Assos, as NextHash, a cryptocurrency firm, came on board as part of a five-year deal.
But the team reportedly struggled to pay wages in August, due to NextHash not meeting the financial commitments.
While Campenaerts has found a new contract, some of the other star name from Qhubeka are yet to announce new teams, including Giacomo Nizzolo and Domenico Pozzovivo, while Fabio Aru retires from the peloton.
Campenaerts also spoke about how he is a changed rider and wants to focus more on the spring Classics: "I have lost my heart to the spring classics and I want to continue on the momentum of last season. That means attacking races, but also achieving results.
"The two also often go hand-in-hand, because that way you can sometimes create a race scenario from which you can win. And with a lot of young people such as Brent Van Moer and Florian Vermeersch, there is an enormous amount of talent present. We can certainly play in the finals."
Campenaerts will also likely be a key component in Caleb Ewan's sprint lead-out train yet again.
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