The AG2R La Mondiale team have confirmed they will use Eddy Merckx bikes in 2019, showing off a black 525 rim-brake model fitted with Mavic wheels, Look pedals, Deda handlebars, KMC chain and Rotor cranks. The team does not list which gear and brake system it will use but the bike shown during the official announcement is equipped with Campagnolo.
The top tube and down tubes have flashes of the white and blue AG2R La Mondiale team colours, with the tan Vredestein tyre walls the only other touch of colour.
In a photograph published by the French team, Belgian rider Oliver Naesen wears an updated 2018 jersey and shorts, made by Bergamo-based company Rosti, with the Merckx branding.
AG2R La Mondiale have used Factor bikes for the last two seasons but that deal was not extended, forcing the French WorldTour team to source new equipment for 2019 and join the shuffle of major teams and bike brands. Over the last decade, AG2R La Mondiale have also ridden Focus, Kuota and BH bikes.
At the beginning of October, Team Sunweb confirmed they would ride Cervélo bikes for 2019. It is also confirmed that Dimension Data will ride BMC bikes - after riding Cervélo this season - and CCC Team (formerly BMC Racing Team) will ride Giant bikes.
Eddy Merckx Bikes previously sponsored Quick-Step Floors in the 2010 and 2011 seasons and currently provides bikes to Belgian Pro Continental squad Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.
Merckx sold his bike brand in 2008 and the company was saved last year when it was bought by Belgian Cycling Factory, which also owns Ridley - who supply Lotto Soudal - HJC (helmets), Forza (saddles) and BCF Cycling Wear.
The deal with Eddy Merckx bikes ties-in with the start of the 2019 Tour de France in Brussels to celebrate the first of Merckx’s five victories.
"I’m proud to have a UCI WorldTour team riding Eddy Merckx bikes at the Tour de France next year as a perfect tribute to the 50th anniversary of my first Tour victory," Merckx said.
The new 525 model is the flagship model of the Eddy Merckx collection and will be available in-store at the start of the Tour de France 2019.
"The 525 weighs 6.8kg. We’ve managed to create a very light bike and our tests have shown the new 525 is performing brilliantly in the wind tunnel as well,"Toon Wils, the R&D engineer at Belgian Cycling Factory said.