The first Lotto team, managed by Walter Godefroot and his deputy Patrick Lefevere, appeared in 1985, with current Lotto–Soudal manager Marc Sergeant among its fifteen riders. In 1987, he became the first to win a Tour de France stage for the Belgian national lottery. That year and the next, the team had to rename itself "Joker" for July only to avoid confusion with France's Loto.
After a two-summer break (1988 and 1989), a Lotto team relaunched by Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke made a strong comeback to the Grande Boucle, with Johan Museeuw grabbing prestigious wins at Mont-Saint-Michel and on the Champs-Élysées. The "Lion of Flanders" had roared for the first time. In the 2000s, the team's national rivalry with Patrick Lefevere's Quick Step led Lotto to tap Australian cycling with varying degrees of success. On the one hand, Robbie McEwen won no fewer than three green jerseys, but on the other hand, Lotto twice missed the opportunity to become the first Belgian team bring the yellow jersey all the way to Paris, with Cadel Evans finishing second in 2007 and 2008, only to win in 2011… after joining BMC.
Finally, Jurgen Van den Broeck's top 5 finish in 2010 grabbed the attention in Belgium. After crashing in 2011, the next year he posted the best performance by a Belgian in the previous 25 years (Claudy Criquielion finished fifth in 1986). And Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert's exploit to win the Mont des Alouettes stage in 2011 was not half bad either! In 2014, Lotto-Belisol made waves in the race with Frenchman Tony Gallopin, clad in yellow on July 14 and winner of the stage to Oyonnax. Lotto–Soudal's best performance in 2018 was André Greipel's third place in Sarzeau. The team finished the race with just three riders. The magnitude of the meltdown pushed management to replace the Gorilla of Rostock with Aussie Caleb Ewan, the author of two stage wins in the Giro this season before making his Tour debut. Meanwhile, Tim Wellens will continue his tradition of taking part in the Tour in odd-numbered years (2015, 2017 and now 2019) despite his aversion to intense heat. The Grand Départ in Belgium is as good an excuse as any other for this collector of undulating stages to try again.
Stage wins: 33
Secondary classification wins: 4
Yellow jerseys: 8
32: the number of Tour de France starts by a team sponsored by the Belgian national lottery (since 1985).
5 July 1987: back on French soil after the Tour starts in Berlin, Marc Sergeant posts Lotto's first Grande Boucle stage win in Strasbourg.
2 July 2011: Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert triumphs at the top of the Mont des Alouettes (Vendée) and pulls on a yellow jersey that epitomises his stellar season.
26 July 2015: André Greipel becomes the first Lotto rider to win four stages in a Tour de France after claiming the finale on the Champs-Élysées, just like Johan Museeuw and Robbie McEwen before him.
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