As historians say, here we go again.
Remco Evenepoel asked the media 2 years ago to stop calling him the next Eddy Merckx.
Or is it the next next Eddy Merckx?
One advantage of being old is you remember things (and then you don’t). I remember a bunch of gifted riders, some Belgian and others not so much, being labeled the next Eddy Merckx.
Here is the list:
- Tom Boonen
- Peter Sagan
- Wilco Kelderman
- Edvald Boasson Hagen (c’mon)
- Damiano Cunego (yes, Cunego)
- Johan Museeuw
- Claude Criquielion
- Frank Vandenbroucke
- Eric Vanderaerden
- Freddy Maertens
I get it. As a cycling journalist, you want to spice your story. And in this digital marketing age, there’s click bait to take into account. But, Cunego the next Merckx?
What did John McEnroe say about this?
Let’s recall: Eddy Merckx won everything under the sun and then some. He was the next Eddy Merckx before he became Eddy Merckx.
He started with Milan-San Remo in his first year as a pro and never stopped winning.
Last year, after he won the Clásica San Sebastián, Merckx said:
He is ready for the big job. Can he follow in my footsteps? Maybe he will even get better. Remco has all the qualities to make it happen.VeloNews.com
He does have the qualities, no doubt. But so did Tom Boonen at about the same age.
What Does the Next Eddy Merckx Mean Anyway?
For me, the next Eddy Merckx would have to win:
- all Monuments
- all Grand Tours plus at least one double
- at least 5 Tour de Frances
- at least one road world championship
- more than 3 Northern Classics
- a bunch of lesser Classics
- cherry on a cake — Hour Record
This would be somewhat close, not exactly the Eddy Merckx, but good enough.
Right now, we’re talking about a 20-year-old kid. Massively talented but a 20-year-old still.
Let’s come back to it and discuss after he bags a couple of Tours, a Giro and the Ronde.
How about 7 Milan-San Remos? Or even 5?