Maxim Van Gils climbs to the finish at the 2024 Strade Bianche. He's spattered with dried mud and is grimacing as he rounds the final corner.

Lotto Dstny’s WorldTour return is in good shape except for one problem

Possible sponsorship issues put a cloud over its recent results and future.

Maxim Van Gils has been a bright spot for Lotto Dstny, but team troubles could change his path.

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 03.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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It’s been a rollercoaster few years for Lotto Dstny. The Belgian team was relegated to the second-division ProTour after 2022, lost a longtime co-title sponsor (to rival Belgian squad Quick Step, no less), and has seen the departure of some of its best talent to retirement or other teams.

But after a management shakeup following that 2022 season, things have generally been looking up for Lotto. Despite messy breakups last year with bike sponsor Ridley and sprinter Caleb Ewan, the team has been competitive in many races the past two seasons, and already has three WorldTour-level wins this year. 

There’s a core of young talent, like Maxim Van Gils, Lennart Van Eetvelt, and Arnaud De Lie. There’s a promising pipeline in its Continental-level development team, most prominently 18-year-old Alpes Isère Tour winner Jorno Widar, who was also second overall at Ronde de l’Isard. In the latest look at the current relegation cycle, which ends after next season, Lotto is comfortably poised to return to the WorldTour.

There’s just one little problem.

As Het Nieuwsblad has reported over the past week, the team is facing the possible loss of yet another co-title sponsor as Dstny has not renewed its contract past this season. While Dstny hasn’t made an official decision, a renewal is said to be unlikely. In an interview with the paper, general manager Stephane Heulot admitted things look a little rough. “Naturally I wish it was Christmas and there were presents under the tree,” he said. (A particularly bad gift: Van Eetvelt getting hit by a driver on one of his first rides back from injury.)

In the interview, Heulot confirmed that Dstny hasn’t yet renewed, but said similar questions could be asked of other teams.

“We are indeed in a situation where we are negotiating with sponsors and with Dstny in particular,” he said. “Things are moving forward. Of course we want it to go faster, but it takes time.”

If Dstny does leave after two years as co-sponsor, Heulot reportedly needs to replace around €3 million in funding. That’s certainly workable, and Heulot said he is in fact aiming for a budget increase. But generally, team managers like to have sponsorship for the following season locked up at the very latest by the start of the Tour de France. That leaves precious little time to re-sign Dstny or find a replacement.

Without a deal in place, Heulot has reportedly been forced to pause contract renewals and pursuit of any new signings.

“The team will not spend money it does not have,” Heulot said. He noted that the first priority was renewing the young core of De Lie, Van Eetvelt and Van Gils; all are now under deals through 2026. But other key riders like Andreas Kron, Victor Campanaerts, and Florian Vermeersch are out of contract at the end of the season.

“There’s no reason to panic,” Heulot claimed, but if good news doesn’t come soon, the team could see its aspirations to return to the WorldTour – and perhaps more than that – disappear up the road.

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