Contrary to assertions from his lawyer, Wout van Aert is not completely in the clear to sign for a new team in 2019. The UCI has, as was reported on Thursday, granted the cyclo-cross world champion permission to negotiate with other teams after his bitter split from Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, but the governing body may still take action against him should he lose the legal case against his former team in the Belgian courts.
At lunchtime on Thursday, Van Aert’s lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, told Belgian news agency Belga that they had received the 'green light' from the UCI for the rider to complete a transfer to a new team before December 31.
While the letter refers to Van Aert signing for a Professional Continental team, Steenbrugge confirmed that his understanding was the this also applies to WorldTour teams.
The UCI regulations state that a team or its paying agent that “approaches or engages, albeit conditionally, a rider from a UCI WorldTeam or another UCI Professional Continental team without the prior agreement of the current paying agent” will be subject to a fine. If this is a WorldTour team, the fine ranges from CHF 30,000 to 500,000, while if it’s a Professional Continental team the fine ranges from CHF 30,000 to 300,000. The regulations also state that ‘individual licence-holders involved in such practices' are liable to a fine anywhere from CHF 3,000 to 50,000 if the rider is signing for a WorldTour team, and up to CHF 30,000 if it’s a Pro Conti team.