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Confirmed: AG2R La Mondiale to race Eddy Merckx bikes in 2019

AG2R La Mondiale confirmed to be riding Eddy Merckx bikes from next season

Eddy Merckx bikes are set to return to cycling's highest order as it has been confirmed that the brand will replace Factor as AG2R La Mondiale's bike provider from the 2019 season.

In a press release sent out by parent company the Belgian Cycling Factory, which also owns Ridley, it was stated the partnership that will see Eddy Merckx bikes return to the WorldTour has been agreed for at least the next two seasons.

This comes after Anglo-Australian brand Factor was rumoured to have ended the two-year agreement with AG2R as it was not conducive to its 'high-end profile'.

With Factor departing, AG2R La Mondiale was then left to find a replacement bike manufacturer, with it eventually reaching an agreement with Eddy Merckx bikes, the secondary part of Ridley's Belgian Cycling Factory.

This will see the team of Romain Bardet and Oliver Naesen partner alongside its fourth bike brand in the last decade having already ridden Focus, Kuota and BH bikes as well as Factor.

For Merckx bikes, this concludes an emphatic change of fortunes that almost saw the company cease from existence. 

The brand was saved from administration by fellow Belgians Ridley in 2017 and was brought underneath the Belgian Cycling Factory banner, which also owns Forza saddles and parts.

'Eddy Merckx will be the race bike partner of AG2R La Mondiale for the upcoming two years, with the option of a two-year extension,' said Jochim Aerts, CEO of Belgian Cycling Factory.

'It’s really marvellous news for our bike brand. Timing couldn’t be better either: Next year, the Tour de France will start in Brussels, with Eddy Merckx himself as the main guest. It will be 50 years since Eddy won his first Tour de France.

'Perhaps Romain Bardet can do the same, riding an Eddy Merckx. It’s a dream coming true.

'Our R&D department, together with 40 years of Merckx engineering experience, developed a brand-new flagship: the 525. The riders of AG2R La Mondiale will be the first to race with our new top-of-the line bike.

'Every Merckx enthusiast will be able to buy the bike at the start of the Tour de France.

'The match we have with AG2R La Mondiale is just perfect.'

The bike

According to the Belgian Cycling Factory, the AG2R La Mondiale 525 will be a rim brake Eddy Merckx race bike.

Specification

Wheels: Mavic
Tyres: Vredestein
Pedals: Look
Kit stem-handlebar: Deda
Crank - power meter: Rotor
Chain: KMC
Cycling computer: Lezyne
Bar tape: Lizard Skins
Bottle cages: Elite

Merckx bikes will now be reintroduced to the WorldTour circus following an eight-year hiatus. It was previously sponsor to Patrick Lefevere's Quick-Step Floors team during 2010 and 2011 before American brand Specialized bought out the contract in 2012.

Before then, Merckx bikes were best remembered for being the bicycle of choice for the famous Motorola team of the 1990s that starred such riders as Sean Yates and a young Lance Armstrong.

The brand is also current sponsor of Belgian Continental team, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

This will also be the latest move in the bike manufacturer merry-go-round that seems to be taking place ahead of the 2019 season. 

Team Sunweb have already confirmed their switch to Cervelo bikes ahead of 2019 as Giant moves across to the newly-formed CCC, formed out of the soon-disbanded BMC Racing team.

Cervelo's switch to Team Sunweb then saw Dimension Data looking for new bikes, with them eventually opting for BMC.

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