Wout Van Aert has reportedly agreed a deal with the LottoNL-Jumbo team to compete on the road at WorldTour level, for three years from 2020 to 2022. Belgian and Dutch media report that the contract will be formalised when he passes a medical exam.
Van Aert has won the cyclo-cross world title for the last three years. He has also shown enormous talent on the road, finishing third in this year’s Strade Bianche, ninth in the Tour of Flanders and tenth in Gent-Wevelgem. He is scheduled to ride the road race in the European Championships in Glasgow next month.
The 23-year-old Belgian is still contracted to ride for Veranda’s Willems-Crelan in 2019 and is expected to respect that contract if the Professional Continental team secures better sponsorship for 2019. However it was suggested that possibly Van Aert may transfer to LottoNL-Jumbo sooner or even in September 2019, so he can ride part of the winter cyclo-cross season with his new team.
Veranda’s Willems has denied that Van Aert will leave the team early, saying “he is and will remain a rider of the team until end 2019.” On their website, they said that they wanted him to remain with the team and “made him a very attractive proposition a while ago. However, the team management ultimately had no choice but to pull the plug on the negotiations due to additional unreasonable demands from the rider’s management.”
Van Aert received offers or interest from Bahrain-Merida, Lotto-Soudal, Team Sky and Veranda's Willems-Crelan but LottoNL-Jumbo apparently clinched the deal because the Jumbo supermarket chain plan to open 20 stores in Belgium on 2019 and will become the team's only title sponsor. Van Aert's coach Marc Lamberts already works with the Dutch WorldTour team.
According to reports in Belgium and the Netherlands, Van Aert will be joined by fellow Belgian Laurens De Plus, currently at Quick-Step Floors, and Team Sunweb’s Mike Teunnisen.