Dutch national champion Lorena Wiebes and Parkhotel Valkenburg have finally parted ways after a contract battle.
Wiebes had hoped to leave the Dutch team after the 2019 season, where she recorded 15 wins and established herself as one of the best sprinters in the world, but was under contract with Parkhotel Valkenburg until 2021.
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The two parties avoided a court case after reaching an 11th-hour compromise, with Wiebes agreeing to stay with the team until at least June 1.
Wiebes had told Dutch media at the end of the season she wanted to transfer to a bigger team and she would consider leaving the sport if her contract wasn’t terminated.
“I told my lawyer to file a lawsuit because I think you can’t break a contract,” Parkhotel Valkenburg team manager Esra Tromp told Cycling Weekly at the time. “But we met with Lorena’s lawyers and we found a solution.
“It was clear that she had offers from many teams. That’s against the gentlemen’s agreement that we all have as team managers and teams in general,” Tromp explained.
“I got a lot of messages from other sports directors and team managers saying well done, because your whole team is based on contracts, and if it’s possible to get out of a contract that easily then you are nothing.”
Tromp will have hoped to have gotten more race days out of his sprinter in the first half of the year, with the coronavirus thwarting those plans and the majority of the calendar still yet to be raced. Wiebes will now have until July 15 to sign with a new team during the interim transfer period.
Dutch cycling commentator José Been suggests it’s an open secret that Wiebes destination is Sunweb, who count Leah Kirchmann and Coryn Rivera amongst their ranks.
In a press release, Tromp said: “It is unfortunate to see a rider leave after many successes together, if the match is not there anymore it is time to move on. We are thankful for the years with Lorena and we wish her all the best for the future.”
Update: On June 1 Wiebes signed with Sunweb, saying in a press release: “I’m really motivated to be a part of Team Sunweb to grow together and continue my development as a rider.”
“This is a very professional top sports environment for me to do that and I’m confident that the people around me will help bring me to the next level. I’m looking forward to getting back to racing when it is safe for everyone to do so and making my first appearance for the team. Knowing that day will come keeps me motivated to train during these unusual and challenging times.”