'He turned pro too early': Eddy Merckx just can't stop commenting on Evenepoel

The cycling legend has happily voiced his opinion on the young Belgian multiple times during the rider's short career

Eddy Merckx and Remco Evenepoel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Eddy Merckx has, once again, voiced his criticisms of Remco Evenepoel, this time saying "I admire his character, but he turned pro too early."

Evenepoel turned professional back in 2019 at the age of 18 with Deceuninck - Quick-Step and has already racked up an impressive 21 victories during his three years at WorldTour level

But that hasn't stopped one of the all-time greats from putting the 21-year-old down from time to time, most notably during the Road World Championships where Merckx said Evenepoel "mainly rides for himself" after the youngster had committed to being all-in for Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

>>> Road World Championships 2022 route announced: Australia races to suit puncheurs

"I admire his character- he is a rider of great class and very strong," Merckx said. "The problem is that he turned pro too early and skipped the other categories. As a result, he misses something in his preparation. I hope he can make up for that in the coming years and show that he is a super champion.”

Merckx then heaped praise on Van Aert: "He won Ghent-Wevelgem, Amstel and the stage over Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France. He is super strong for a non-climber, a real champion.”

Evenepoel has had yet another successful season, especially so considering he didn't start his season until early May at the Giro d'Italia as he was recovering from a horror crash at the Italian Monument Classic of Il Lombardia in 2020 where he suffered multiple injuries including a pelvis fracture and a contusion to his right lung.

He had a good start at the Giro but his lack of fitness and experience showed as eventual winner Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) started to stamp his authority with Evenepoel eventually abandoning.

But the Belgian returned to take eight victories during the season with overall wins at both the Tour of Belgium and Tour of Denmark along with one-day races. He also scored a place on the podium at both the European Championships road race and time trial as well as the World Championships time trial.

Evenepoel is set to start his 2022 season at the Vuelta a San Juan, starting January 30, which he won back in 2020, before potentially riding Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta a España with no mention of the Tour de France as of yet. 

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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.