By Gregor Brown
Belgian cyclist Wout Van Aert will review his options for 2019 after his team left him out of the Roompot-Crelan merger dealings.
The three-time cyclocross champion and emerging classics rider is under contract with Belgian team Veranda's Willems-Crelan. The team, after a failed deal with Aqua Blue Sport, announced on Thursday it would merge with Dutch Team Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij for 2019.
Van Aert has a contract through 2019 and in 2020 he was expected to join WorldTour Team LottoNL-Jumbo, but he may now look to make a move before then.
"It's been enough," Van Aert told Het Nieuwsblad. "Yes, originally it was my intention to respect my contract until end of 2019, but I would like to reconsider my position. I can't believe an employee can be treated like this in the 21th century."
The 23-year-old would become the star rider of the announced merger, but it is uncertain if the new-formed team will be able to keep him on the books.
Nick Nuyens and Chris Compagnie manage Team Veranda's Willems-Crelan. They will oversee the new team alongside Michael Zijlaard, the current general manager of team Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij.
In the process of the merger, Van Aert will lose his soigneur Wesley Theunis, team-mate Tim Merlier and mentor Niels Albert. Directeur sportif Michiel Elijzen is also left looking for work, according to Van Aert, and the bike supplier is uncertain, too.
"I was informed about five minutes before they sent out the official communication. Directeur sportif Michiel Elijzen also received a phone call. 'Good news, we have a deal,' he was told. But then in the new team there is no room for Michiel."
"He is not happy with the situation," Van Aert's agent, Jef Van den Bosch told Sporza. "It is clear that he is not served well with the merger."
The possibility is that Van Aert could join LottoNL-Jumbo one year early, starting with 2019 instated of finishing his current contract with Sniper.
"I want to plan my career myself," Van Aert added. "I don't want to be led by others."
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