The Belgian cyclocross star unilaterally broke contract with his previous team

Wout van Aert will ride for Jumbo-Visma from March 2019 after he unilaterally broke contract with his former team.

The cyclocross star became embroiled in a legal battle with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan earlier this year, after breaking his contract due to his concerns about a team merger.

Jumbo-Visma, previously Lotto-Jumbo, have announced the 24-year-old will join the team in time for the spring Classics.

Van Aert said: “I think I achieved great results last year and that’s why I had the opportunity to talk with different team.

“At one point, Team Jumbo-Visma knocked on my door, a team that really appealed to me.

“Due to circumstances I will be able to move up the ranks in 2019 already.

“It feels good that I can step up to the WorldTour, because I think I can develop myself a lot at that level.”

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Van Aert, the current cyclocross world champion, was hugely impressive on the road in 2018, finishing third in Strade Bianche, ninth in the Tour of Flanders and third in the European Championship road race.

Pro Continental team Veranda’s Willems-Crelan were rumoured to be merging with Irish outfit Aqua Blue Sport, with the latter announcing the deal online earlier this year.

But Veranda’s Willems denied the merger before later joining forces with Dutch team Roompot-Charles.

Van Aert unilaterally broke his contract due to concerns over the merger process, he said.

He has ridden the current cyclocross season as an independent.

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The Belgian had been due to join Jumbo in 2020 when his contract with Veranda’s Willems ended, but was in talks with the team in the hopes of joining sooner.

Jumbo team manager Richard Plugge said: “We were interested in Wout for 2020.

“Things have all gone faster than planned and we can welcome him to our team earlier.

“That’s very good news for the team, because we’re getting stronger. He’s a very big talent and we hope to be able to develop him into the Classics rider we all see in him.”

Van Aert flew to Spain on Monday to join team-mates in training.