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Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) has won his legal battle over the termination of his contract with former team Vérandas-Willens Crelan. A judge in Belgian court ruled in van Aert’s favor on Tuesday in a case brought by Nick Nuyens, manager of the Sniper Cycling company that owned the team. Nuyens was seeking over €1 million in damages from van Aert, but must instead pay van Aert’s legal costs.
“Justice has been done. What a relief!” van Aert wrote on Twitter. “It gives me a huge boost to continue working on my comeback and to be able to concentrate 100% on this.”
The lawsuit stemmed from van Aert’s unilateral termination of his contract with the Vérandas-Willems Crelan team towards the end of 2018, his second season with the organization. The three-time world cyclocross champion left the squad as management was investigating possible mergers with other teams, ultimately merging with Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij to become Roompot-Charles, which is shutting down at the end of 2019.
“I was only told about [the merger] about five minutes before the official communiqué was sent out,” van Aert said at the time, also pointing out that talks of potentially merging with Aqua Blue Sport were not adequately communicated to riders either.
“Enough is enough. It’s hard to believe that an employee can be treated like this in the 21st century.”
After van Aert terminated his contract and ultimately signed a new deal to make the WorldTour jump with Jumbo-Visma, Nuyens filed suit, seeking €1,150,000 from van Aert.
Van Aert argued he had had an “urgent” reason to pull out of the deal due to the loss of trust between rider and team, highlighted by Nuyens’s allegedly pressuring van Aert’s former coach Niels Albert to sign a statement against him.
Over a year after van Aert pulled out of his Vérandas-Willems Crelan deal, a judge has now ruled that van Aert’s argument for ending his contract was valid, and that Nuyens must pay his legal costs.
Nuyens is appealing the decision.