Eddy Merckx says that if Belgium have one leader for World Championships Evenepoel should not ride

The Belgian cycling legend has said that the young talent is not fit to ride in a support role for Wout van Aert

Remco Evenepoel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Eddy Merckx has said that he doesn't believe Remco Evenepoel should not be riding the road race at the World Championships if Wout van Aert is the sole team leader, as he "mainly rides for himself."

The Belgian legend has been critical of the home team selection for the men's road race, after it was made clear Van Aert would be the stand alone leader for the team on the roads of Flanders.

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When asked if a sole leader is the right approach for the team, Merckx told Het Nieuwsblad: "At the moment yes, but that is certainly not always the case. If two riders stand out in advance, you can hardly leave the second one at home,

"If there really is only one leader, you shouldn't take Evenepoel with you. He mainly drives for himself, we saw that at the Olympics.

"In Tokyo I didn't think the selection was well made. Too many men were not in shape: Greg Van Avermaet had a hard time in the Tour de France, Mauri Vansevenant is good but still so young,... Van Aert was too much alone in
the final."

Merckx spoke about other nations as well as Belgium who have a great chance to maybe beat Van Aert.

"It makes sense that he (Van Aert) is the leader. And Jasper Stuyven also seems to be very strong. But the Belgians are not alone, are they? There will be many candidates on this course: Caleb Ewan, Julian Alaphilippe, Tom Pidcock, they all count. And start chasing everything as a Belgian team."

Merckx referenced how Van Aert being watched at the Olympics was like himself in the 1968 and 1972 World Championships in Imola and Gap, where he was marked out by team-mates in the break and the Italians in the bunch, seeing him miss out on the medals.

The men's elite road race starts in the city of Antwerp before making its way over to the finish town of Leuven to take on two circuits, one in the town and another named the 'Flandrien circuit' making the route 268.3km. 

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.