Belgian cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with the Veranda's Willems-Crelan team following their merger with Dutch squad Roompot for 2019.
Van Aert has previously spoken of his frustration at being left in the dark after the team's parent company, Sniper Cycling, was announced to merge with Aqua Blue Sport before pulling out of that deal and merging with Roompot for next year.
Sniper Cycling, owned by ex-pro Nick Nuyens, announced in a statement on Tuesday morning that they had unilaterally agreed to terminate Van Aert's contract ahead of the new season. The team added that they had offered Van Aert an improved contact for 2019 which was rejected by the rider.
"Wout van Aert has unilaterally terminated his contract with Sniper Cycling on Monday evening September 17, 2018," the statement read.
"This decision came despite the fact that the team management tried to unblock the situation last week, e.g. by offering him an improved contract for 2019.
"Van Aert did not accept this proposal and has opted to terminate his contract unilaterally with immediate effect. The team management regrets that decision.
"This matter is now in the hands of our counselors [sic]. No further comment will be made in the meantime.
"However, as pointed out repeatedly, we wish to clarify that we will be a Pro Continental cycling team in 2019 regardless."
Van Aert, who should compete in cyclocross this winter, will likely switch his focus to the road full-time next year after a stellar 2018 which saw him podium at the Strade Bianche and stay in the mix with the favourites in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
The 24-year-old had agreed terms with Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo for 2020 when his contract with Sniper Cycling expired, but could potentially join the WorldTour team early in 2019.
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Follow on Twitter: @richwindy
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
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