Lotto-Dstny CEO Stephane Heulot has confirmed that Caleb Ewan is free to leave the team before his contract expires at the end of 2024. Relations between the Australian and his team have been strained since he abandoned the Tour de France last month.
Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad, Heulot said that his team was prepared to part company with Ewan if he wished to leave. Ewan, who has not raced since the Tour, missed the BEMER Cyclassics last weekend and he is also absent from this week’s Deutschland Tour as he awaits the birth of his third child.
“Caleb still has a contract for 2024 and that is an issue at the moment,” Heulot said. “We are not going to stop him if he wants to leave, but it is up to his agent to find another team. That is not an easy job.”
Ewan joined Lotto from GreenEdge in 2019 and won a hat-trick of stages on his Tour debut that year. He has won a total of 31 times since arriving at the team, but his lone official victory of 2023 came at the Van Merksteijn Fences Classic in May.
“For a rider with his talent, Caleb is going through a bad season. It is up to him to spring into action,” Heulot said. “He is a leader within the team and should lead by example.”
Ahead of this year’s Tour, Ewan acknowledged that his position as the team’s lead sprinter was under threat from the emergence of Arnaud De Lie, who has since extended his contract with Lotto-Dstny until the end of 2026.
Ewan placed second on stage 4 in Nogaro, but he struggled thereafter and he was criticised sharply by Heulot when he abandoned the Tour on stage 13, a stance that Ewan’s agent Jason Bakker described as “staggering” and “disgusting.”
Earlier this week, Bakker told GCN that it was still possible for Ewan to see out the remainder of his contract. “I honestly believe Caleb and Lotto can reset if that’s what has to occur but if there is a better scenario for the parties then we’ll explore that too,” he said.
If Ewan is unable to find a new team, he will be compelled to race on with Lotto-Dstny in 2024.
“That will not be easy,” Heulot told Het Nieuwsblad. “He has to regain the trust of his teammates. There is also a role for me there. I want to do my best for that, but then he has to be willing to go along with it. I have nothing against Caleb, but his behaviour bothers me. There are certain things we can’t accept.”