Ridley hits back at Lotto Dstny 'disloyalty' over early ending of partnership

Belgian team reportedly breaking contract with long-term bike sponsor

Clock11:00, Wednesday 30th August 2023
Lotto Dstny have been riding Ridley bikes for 12 seasons

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Lotto Dstny have been riding Ridley bikes for 12 seasons

Belgian bike manufacturer Ridley has accused Lotto Dstny of “disloyalty” and “reputational damage” after it was revealed that the UCI ProTeam would be ending their 12-year partnership with the brand to seek new bike suppliers for 2024.

Lotto Dstny were set to ride Ridley bikes until the end of 2025, but reports in Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws - which were later confirmed by Lotto CEO Stéphane Heulot - stated that the team would break that partnership early.

A day after the news emerged on Tuesday, Ridley responded in a statement given to HLN by CEO Jochim Aerts, describing the situation as a “cold shower”.

“Ridley feels compelled to respond to ongoing press leaks from new management at Lotto Dstny,” the statement read. “A current agreement is unilaterally terminated and 12 years of intensive and positive cooperation are consigned to the rubbish bin.”

Aerts also suggested that Ridley would be seeking financial compensation or settlement from Lotto Dstny.

“This disloyalty and reputational damage and the lost investments will have to be compensated,” the statement concluded. “It is a pity that I also have to end with a financial aspect, but as I said, the future of my company and its employees are sacred to me.

"Ridley is therefore looking forward to the proposals that the management and/or the Board of Directors of Lotto Dstny will come up with to repair the damage suffered."

Though the reasons for the termination of the relationship are not clear, various reports in the Belgian media have pointed to a reduced financial contribution from Ridley - a hangover from the Covid-19 pandemic - and suggestions that riders had to use old equipment, specifically time trial bikes, which the brand had failed to provide.

In their statement, Ridley resolutely rejected this narrative.

“In 2021, we were asked by the then-management to open up the current agreement [running from 2022 to 2025], something that we as a company went along with to please the team and the riders. Two years later, when we are fully investing in optimising the material for the team, we get a cold shower.

“At the end of May, several shots were fired in the press in which the CEO of the team claimed that Ridley's bikes would not be ProTour worthy. There were doubts, especially about the new time trial bike, the new Dean.

“It is remarkable when you see how many races Arnaud De Lie wins on our new Falcon and when you read that Alec Segaert stated on September 16, 2022, following the signing of a professional contract, that the new Ridley time trial bike has certainly played a role in his decision.”

Referencing De Lie, the rumours in the Belgian press were that the sprinter hesitated to renew his contract until the new bike sponsor was confirmed, but Ridley’s statement suggested the investment in De Lie may have been part of the need to reallocate funds from elsewhere.

“A good and attentive reader understands that there is more to it. Just before the termination of the current agreement with Ridley, Lotto Dstny announced the contract renewal with Arnaud de Lie. This obviously required a budget, more budget than anticipated. And that is where they tighten the purse strings.”

Lotto Dstny have not commented on the current situation, other than a short statement on Tuesday to confirm they would be moving on from Ridley in 2024, but that they would not be offering any more insight into the situation in light of the recent death of their development rider, Tijl De Decker.

According to reports, Orbea will be the team's new bike supplier from 2024.

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