It’s been a difficult season for Klaas Vantornout of the Marlux-Napoleon team. Just two years ago he was riding high as Belgian National Champion, wearing arguably the second most prestigious jersey in cyclocross. Four years ago, in 2013, he finished a close second to Sven Nys at Worlds in Louisville, coming within one bobble of the rainbow jersey.
We spoke with the veteran in 2013 in Louisville, fresh off his first Belgian National Championship and filled with optimism.
This season, after taking a September win in Baden, Vantornout’s results took a dip and the tall Belgian was left off the 2017 Worlds team. That wasn’t the only bad news he received this season.
Hours after the final Superprestige race in Middelkerke, Cyclocross Magazine learned that Vantornout received a call alerting him that his contract with Marlux Napoleon Games was suddenly terminated as of March 1, 2017. The news was confirmed by Nieuwsblad and other European media, and left Vantornout disappointed but pledging not to retire.
Bedankt voor alle steun, berichtjes, aanmoedigingen van iedereen! Dit doet deugd! 1000x bedankt!!
— Klaas Vantornout (@KlaasVantornout) February 12, 2017
The team defended the decision, stating that Vantornout’s contract, which extended into 2018, had an out for the team based on the rider’s athletic performance, which was in decline.
However, the two now have apparently come to terms and committed to a contract to extend through March 1, 2018. Vantornout expressed gratitude, stating, “I always felt good in this team. The team organization, the teammates, the entourage, we’re a tight group. That’s why I’m so happy that we can just continue to work together. Forgive and forget. With a clean slate we can begin my tenth year on the team, and that’s a big relief.”
Tom Meeusen to Join Pauwels, Vantornout?
Cyclocross Magazine has also learned from several sources that Marlux Napoleon Games team leader Danny de Bie is trying to lure Tom Meeusen from Telenet Fidea over to join Kevin Pauwels.
How the re-signing of Vantornout impacts that possibility and necessary budget is unclear, but the move would be a blow to Telenet Fidea, as Meeusen was the team’s top racer for much of the past season, despite a disappointing mechanical at Worlds just seconds from the start.
However, the late-season success of Lars van der Haar and early-season success of Toon Aerts are big reasons the team can still be optimistic about next season.
Stay tuned on this developing story.