Lotto Dstny will end their 12-year partnership with Ridley and switch to Orbea in 2024, reports in the Belgian media suggest.
The second-tier ProTeam, who were relegated from the WorldTour at the end of 2022, are currently under contract with the Belgian bike brand Ridley until the end of the 2025 season, but they are set to cut ties early and part ways at the end of 2023.
A statement from the team confirmed the reports on Tuesday. It read "Lotto Dstny confirms that the team will no longer be racing on Ridley Bikes in 2024. Seen [sic] the recent passing of Tijl De Decker and the impact it has on the team, we do not wish to give any interviews about that for the moment. However, the team would like to emphasise the good cooperation it’s had with Ridley over all those years."
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, one reason for the split is Ridley's inability to supply a new time trial bike quickly.
The latest iteration of the brand's Dean time trial bike was launched in August, and some riders were spotted aboard the machine in June at the Critérium du Dauphiné. However, reports suggest that the bike wasn't immediately available in every size. Interestingly, Ridley has also supplied the team with a new road bike, one that is yet to be launched officially, but that we managed to see up close ahead of the Tour de France.
Financial motivation is also cited as another reason for the split, with unfavourable contract terms negotiated by the former CEO of Lotto Dstny, John Lelangue, hanging over the team's current deal with the brand.
“Our collaboration with Ridley will indeed end at the end of this year," the team's current CEO Stéphane Heulot explained in a separate statement on Tuesday. "We are switching to a new bicycle brand. Not so much because we are not satisfied with the quality of the Ridley bike. We have had 12 great years with numerous victories.
"We choose another brand because we want to improve financially. That is needed to keep our current squad."
The team and brand, both based in Belgium, have worked together since the 2012 season when the team went under the guise of Lotto-Belisol. The initial deal was a huge commitment of eight years, cementing the partnership until 2020 at a time when only two riders, Andre Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck, were confirmed on the then-newly-structured squad following the title sponsor split from Omega Pharma.
At the time, Ridley's CEO Jochim Aerts stated “We have a long history with everyone on the team including the director, mechanics and the riders. Having Lotto so close by, and knowing the team so well, will bring many advantages to our product development by having an easy channel for direct feedback."
During that time, the brand helped fellow Belgian, Victor Campenaerts to break the Hour Record, a feat he achieved aboard a Ridley Arena track bike in 2019. The partnership was later extended to 2022, and in 2021 the two sides committed again, announcing an extension to 2026.
But the deal will not make it that far, and reports suggest a switch to Basque bike brand Orbea is set to take Ridley's place.
Orbea is no stranger to the professional peloton. Beyond its commitment to the Orbea Factory MTB team, it also supplies the Ceratizit WNT women's road team and Euskaltel-Euskadi men's road team with its Orca models. It has launched two new road bikes in three years, the Orca Aero and the lightweight-aero Orca OMX.
HLN reports that the team has already spent time aboard the bikes, and that the recent contract extension of the team's star sprinter Arnaud De Lie was a result of the newfound bike sponsor.