Wout Van Aert could be on his way to LottoNL-Jumbo for the 2019 season despite having a deal with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan that runs until the end of next year.
The 23-year-old followed up on winning the Cyclocross World Championships before enjoying an excellent debut Classics campaign where he finished third in Strade Bianche and took a top 10 in the Tour of Flanders.
Het Nieuwsblad reports that those results have seen Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo offer to buy out the rest of Van Aert’s contract with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan so that he can step up to WorldTour level in 2019. Van Aert will decide whether to accept the offer after the Tour of Austria, where he is currently racing.
The move for Van Aert is also being made on commercial as well as sporting grounds. The Jumbo supermarket that sponsors the team is aiming to open 30 stores in Belgium over the next year and wanted a star Belgian rider to join the team.
It is understood that the team’s first choice had been Tim Wellens, but after Wellens signed an extension to his contract at Lotto-Soudal the Dutch team switched their focus to Van Aert.
The possible arrival of Van Aert is also said to be welcomed by LottoNL-Jumbo bike sponsor Bianchi, who are looking to draw on Van Aert cyclocross expertise in the development of a new cyclocross bike.
However LottoNL-Jumbo are not the only team interested in the three-time cyclocross world champion. Van Aert is understood to have numerous offers on the table, and is also considering an offer from Bahrain-Merida as well as an improved deal from current team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan.
Having taken a break after the sprint, Van Aert is currently racing at the Tour of Austria. He will then do two races in the north of Europe at the Tour de Wallonie and the Tour of Denmark.