You might have heard of a chap called Eddy Merckx.
Bit before my time, but he was a pretty handy cyclist, I’m told. From Belgium. Fond of winning bike races. Looked a bit like Elvis in his pomp.
Over the years Belgium has produced ‘the next Eddy Merckx’ on numerous occasions. Including, of course, literally the next Eddy Merckx in the form of his son, Axel – national Belgian road-race champion in the year 2000, no less.
Each ‘the next Eddy Merckx’ has, regrettably, turned out to be a bit un-Mercxk-ian on the bike, and distinctively un-Elvis-esque to look at.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
Riding like Merckx and looking like Elvis is essentially the genetic jackpot. The greatest cyclist of all time crossed with the best looking man in history. Not even Elvis was that lucky.
All of which leads us to Remco Evenepoel.
Aka ‘the next Eddy Merckx.’
He’s Belgian, he’s eighteen, and he has won what might technically be described as a ‘shit tonne’ of bike races in the junior ranks; 2018 World Champion, European Champion, and everything in-between.
So far so good.
He currently looks like a preppy college kid. Like he might struggle to grow mutton chop sideburns anytime in the near future. But we’ll give him chance to grow into his face before we write him off in the looks department.
Having predictably been signed by Belgian super squad Quick-Step Floors, so begins young Remco’s ascent to the historical pinnacle of the sport.
The cycling media, no doubt, will pass judgement pretty quickly. If he goes three or four years without winning an awful lot the call will go out for the next ‘the next Eddy Merckx.’
After all – those cycling website aren’t going to generate their own clicks now, are they?
It will be fifteen years or so before we know for sure if he was ‘the next Eddy Merckx.’ Only when the search begins for ‘the next Remco Evenepoel’ will we have the answer to this question.
Perhaps his will then be the name we reach for when we benchmark the history of pro cycling. He’ll be spotted, availing himself of the hospitality in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Superhuman feats will no longer be Merckx-ian but Remco-vian.
We will lose interest in salami manufacture (Molteni) and develop a sepia tinged and overly romantic attachment to flooring solutions (Quick-Step).
Anyway. I’ll leave you to it Remco.
(Merckx Image: Public Domain|Remco Evenepoel Image: By Granada – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73042499)