Wout van Aert has put pen to paper on a new contract with Jumbo-Visma, which will keep him at the Dutch team until 2024.
The cyclocross star and 2020 Kristallen Fiets winner was due to see his deal run out at the end of this season, with much speculation about a possible move to Ineos Grenadiers. That speculation has now been put to rest.
Still just 24, the Belgian has already demonstrated his ability to win bike races in almost all scenarios and conditions, from sprints to mud-soaked arenas, to individual time trials, making him one of the hottest properties on the cycling transfer market.
'Just too strong' - Wiggins hails new Olympic champion Carapaz
- ‘France might have to wait another 35 years’ – Pinot skips the Tour
- Froome on comeback: One leg is weaker than the other
Jumbo-Visma are currently training in Alicante, Spain, although van Aert is expected to return to Belgium soon for the next events in the UCI Cyclocross season.
"I really wanted to extend because I have become a lot better with this team. I think everyone has seen that I have made huge steps forward as a rider in recent years. I was always in shape when I needed to," he said from Spain.
Mud-covered Van Aert prevails in Dendermonde
The Belgian national ‘cross champ credits Jumbo with giving him a place to improve.
"I owe a lot to the team to be able to work towards my goals. The decision that I wanted to re-sign was made pretty quickly in my mind," he said.
"Of course there are other things that come into play and that required some time. The intention was good on both sides and I was confident that everything was going to be alright."
Van Aert is also aware of his rising stock, after a season that saw him win plenty of bike races – but also perform as an invaluable domestique to Jumbo’s GC leaders. In his comments, he seemed to put to rest any idea he had been negotiating with the Ineos organisation.
"I don’t have to explain to you that there was more interest in me, but I have never had talks with another team. My goal was to extend the contract," he added.
"We have become the best team in the world. It was best for me to stay. I am glad that it is done and I am relieved that I can speak out about it."
Watch the stunning Tour of Flanders finish as Van der Poel and Van Aert duke it out
This re-signing is a great step for Wout van Aert, and should keep him winning in the yellow and black of Jumbo-Visma for some time longer. When he finishes this deal he’ll be 27, and could easily become the highest-valued rider in the world when it comes time for renewal again. One imagines his agent is already rubbing his hands together with glee at the prospect.
Jumbo will be delighted to have secured his signature too, he can be a franchise-defining rider in the vein of Tom Boonen at QuickStep or Chris Froome at Team Sky. In 20 years when Jumbo and Visma have moved on from the sport, their names will still conjure up the (probably mud-spattered) face of Wout van Aert in the minds of cyclists around the world.
Opinion: Van Aert, Pogacar and a golden age of superstars in Tokyo
'Phenomenal' - Wiggins reacts to Carapaz's road race gold