Veranda’s Willems-Crelan and Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij will merge next season and are to become known as Roompot-Crelan. The new Belgian-Dutch formation, which will have a Belgian licence but race under a Dutch flag, says that their ultimate ambition will be to gain their first Grand Tour wild card.
Wout van Aert, who still has a year remaining on his contract with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, will be the team’s headline rider. The three-time cyclo-cross world champion has been a rising star on the road and will race both cross and road for the team over the coming year.
The squad will be headed by Sniper Cycling management Nick Nuyens and Chris Compagnie, along with Roompot general manager Michael Zijlaard. It will also contain the cyclo-cross team, which will continue to race under the name Crelan-Charles.
The announcement ends a lengthy process for Sniper Cycling following a failed attempt to merge with the Irish Pro Continental outfit Aqua Blue Sport. The long-running saga began when Aqua Blue announced at the start of August that they had acquired Sniper Cycling. That was swiftly denied by Sniper Cycling and the press release was taken down by Aqua Blue. Despite Aqua Blue boss Rick Delaney telling Cyclingnews that a deal would be meted out soon enough, the team announced on Monday that they would fold at the end of the season.
On Tuesday, Veranda’s Willems-Crelan confirmed to Cyclingnews that they were in talks with Roompot, as they searched for a ‘win-win’ situation. With the Dutch Lottery and Veranda’s Willems set to stop as sponsors for their respective teams, the move would ensure a bigger budget for the 2019 season. The holiday company Roompot Vakanties has penned a new one-year deal with the squad.
Current Roompot directeur sportives Erik Breukink, Michael Boogerd and Jean-Paul van Poppel will be the lead DSs on the new squad. It’s not yet clear how many riders, and who, will be carried over from the original line-ups into the new team.
The new team will be presented to the public in January at the Wooning Six Day in the Rotterdam Ahoy velodrome.