Wout van Aert’s former team boss says he’s relieved that “justice has been done,” after the star rider has been ordered to pay more than €600,000 for breaching contract.
Belgian pro Van Aert has been embroiled in a legal battle with Vérandas Willems-Crelan and the team manager Nick Nuyens since 2018, after he broke contract by leaving the team early to join Jumbo-Visma.
Initially, Belgian courts threw out Nuyens’s claim for compensation, but after appeal the Antwerp Labour Court ruled that Van Aert had an ongoing commitment to the team which he did not respect, with the 26-year-old ordered to pay €662,000 (£571,000) in compensation to Nuyens.
Vérandas Willems-Crelan, a Belgian Professional Continental team owned by Sniper Cycling BVBA, ceased to exist not long after Van Aert left the squad, as the outfit merged with Dutch squad Roompot-Charles, which itself disbanded in 2019.
In an interview with Dutch broadcaster Sporza, former pro Nuyens said: “I am especially relieved that justice has finally been done.”
"This is also important for cycling in general, because the judge has made it clear that a contract does mean something."
The dispute dates back to September 2018 when Van Aert left Willems and made the step up to WorldTour level a year ahead of schedule, while still under contact.
Nuyens took Van Aert to court to seek compensation, demanding €1,150,000 (£991,719).
Van Aert’s departure came amid various plans for Véranda’s Willems-Crelan to merge with other teams, which eventually resulted in the parent company, Sniper Cycling, joining Roompot-Charles where Nuyens stayed on as team manager.
Former triple cyclocross world champion Van Aert, now a superstar on the road as well, publicly voiced his displeasure at being kept in the dark about potential mergers.
Nuyens said: “[Not getting the initial amount of compensation] is not a disappointment, because it was not for me to do that amount in the first place, but to make a fair decision.
“The amount is mainly a result of [Van Aert’s] wage. It is a normal amount for the termination of contract.”
Van Aert can still appeal the court’s decision.
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