The cyclocross world champion had agreed to join Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo in 2020, but is now without a contract

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Wout van Aert will ride the coming cyclocross season as an ‘independent’ after a hostile split with his team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, according to his lawyer.

The Belgian is now without a team after it was announced he had terminated his contract.

Van Aert was due to join the Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo in 2020, seeing out his term with Veranda’s Willems.

But the team announced on Monday evening that van Aert had unilaterally terminated his contract.

The rider’s laywer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, told Belgian news website Sporza: “Wout will ride the coming cross races as an independent rider, as a kind of ‘lonesome cowboy.’

“We have contacted the UCI and the Belgian federation to inform them of this, so Wout does not use the equipment of that team or their bicycle.”

Van Steenbrugge added: “Something happened last weekend that caused the bucket to run over, there were already a lot of shortcomings on the part of the employer, and that is something that has changed over the weekend, which is why we immediately terminated the employment contract.”

“I have talked extensively with Wout twice over the past few days and we have come to the conclusion that there was really no basis left to work together.”

Van Aert’s lawyer said Veranda’s Willems demanded a severance payment, but that the cyclocross word champion will not pay.

He added that the case may go to court.

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.

Van Steenbrugge said: “Wout is now without a team. It is too early to say in which direction he will go. There is no contact, no team.”

And speaking about joining LottoNL-Jump, he added: “That’s from 2020. We are now 2018. There is still a major cyclocross and road season, and I’m going to see what will happen.”

Van Aert has spoken out in his first weekly column for cycling website Wielerflits.

He said: “There have been facts in the last days that made any cooperation with the team impossible. Unfortunately, I can not tell you anything extra at the moment, because of the delicate aspect of the case.”

Van Aert said he will now focus on cyclocross.