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Wout van Aert acquitted of €1.1m lawsuit from former team

Joe Robinson
26 Nov 2019

Local court finds Wout van Aert to have lawfully left Veranda's Willems-Crelan

Wout van Aert will be breathing a sigh of relief after a court ruled that he does not owe his form Sniper Cycling team €1.1 million. The court in Mechelen, Belgium ruled on Tuesday that Van Aert's decision to break contract with Veranda's Willems-Crelan last September in order to sign for WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma was lawful.

While three-time cyclocross World Champion Van Aert has been acquitted, his former team boss Nick Nuyens, who brought the charges, is now having to pay for legal costs.

Nuyens originally asked the 25-year-old to reimburse the team over €1 million in damages occurred through sponsorship and race winnings losses after Van Aert breached his contract.

The team boss argued that Van Aert's surprise departure put the future of the Willems-Crelan team into uncertainty. While a merger with Dutch team Roompot secured their place in 2019, the team has since announced it will disband in 2020.

Nuyens still has the option of taking the case to Antwerp on appeal although may find it too costly to do so.

At the time of the original court hearing, Van Aert called the amount 'exorbitant' adding 'it's a completely skewed amount. I would find it very strange if I were sentenced for that.'

Outside the court room, Van Aert's lawyer Walter van Steenbrugge said 'We expected this decision. Wout was naturally very relieved. He can now find mental peace and fully concentrate on his sport.'

Now the case is buried, at the very least temporarily, Van Aert can focus on his return to racing.

The Belgian has been out of action since July after a major crash at the Tour de France. After hitting a fence on the Stage 14 time trial to Pau, Van Aert sustained a deep leg wound that required surgery.

He has since returned to his bike, most recently being seen riding cyclocross in Belgium, although is yet to set a return date for his racing comeback.