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A Belgian labor court has ordered Wout van Aert to pay €662,000 ($806,000) to his former manager for a breach of contract.
Van Aert has been handed the penalty for breaking his contract with Verandas Willems-Crelan in 2018 in order to join Jumbo-Visma for the following season.
The payment will be made to Nick Nuyens, manager of Sniper Cycling — the business which owned the Pro Conti team Verandas Willems-Crelan.
Nuyens had initially pushed for compensation to the tune of €1.1 million ($1.34 million), citing lost sponsorship revenue due to the star’s departure. The judge in the Antwerp labor court felt that was too high decided that van Aert should pay a €662,000 severance payment. He will also have to pay legal fees for Nuyens.
Van Aert joined Verandas Willems-Crelan in 2017 and rapidly shot to fame after dominating the cyclocross scene for many years and winning his first world title that winter.
His success garnered interest from many of the top teams and he penned a deal to join the Jumbo-Visma squad in 2020. However, there were tensions between van Aert and Nuyens and the young Belgian decided to end his contract early to join Jumbo-Visma for the 2019 classics season.
Van Aert rode his 2018-19 cyclocross campaign initially as an independent, with a self-branded world champion’s jersey, before signing a short deal with the Cibel-Cebon team.
After winning monuments, grand tour stages, and developing his stage racing prowess with his WorldTour team, van Aert has been handed a contract with Jumbo-Visma through 2024.
Nuyens initially brought the contract to court in 2019 only to see his case rejected. Van Aert had argued that Nuyens had defaulted on their agreement, leaving him free to join Jumbo-Visma without paying a severance payment.
Van Aert’s representatives are considering appealing the decision.
“Knowing Wout van Aert, we will not leave it at this. This feels unjust. There is a very good chance that we will go to Cassation”, van Aert’s lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge said, according to Sporza.