The former team manager of Wout van Aert has demanded more than €1million in damages after the rider left the squad for Jumbo-Visma.
Van Aert unilaterally terminated his contract with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan in September 2018, making the switch to the WorldTour team a year ahead of schedule, despite still having a contract with Veranda’s.
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Former team manager at Veranda’s Willems-Crelan Nick Nuyens has taken the Belgian star to court to seek compensation and during a hearing on Tuesday (October 22) he demanded €1,150,000 (£991,719), Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports.
Van Aert’s legal team argue that the 25-year-old left the team because “unacceptable things had happened,” while Nuyens denies this.
Speaking after the Tuesday’s hearing, Van Aert said: “[It’s] a completely skewed amount. I would find it very strange if I were sentenced for that.
“At the time, it was not all about the money for me, my career always came first.
“When I did not respond to their contract proposal, I ended up in situation in which I did not want to end up. I was placed in a completely new team that I had never chosen. So there was no other option for us.”
The labour court in Mechelen, Belgium will give its decision on the case on November 26.
Van Aert had been due to join Dutch WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma for the 2020 season, seeing out his contract with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan.
But last September, the team announced that Van Aert had terminated his contract and it later emerged he had signed for Jumbo-Visma.
Van Aert’s departure came amid various plans for Veranda’s Willems Crelan to merge with other teams, which eventually resulted in the parent company, Sniper Cycling, joining Roompot-Charles where Nuyens stayed on as team manager.
Former triple cyclocross World Champion Van Aert, now a superstar on the road as well, publicly voiced his displeasure at being kept in the dark about potential mergers.
Van Aert has been out of competition since the Tour de France in July, after he suffered a nasty wound to his leg in a crash during the Pau time trial stage.
He is still recovering and his return to cyclocross racing this winter remains in doubt.