Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx has reportedly split with the ASO in an undisclosed disagreement, and will no longer be involved in the organisation of the Tour of Oman.
"The Tour of Oman will certainly take place in 2018, but it will be without me," Merckx said, according to Het Laaste Nieuws. "I have nothing to do with it anymore."
According to the report, Merckx and his business partner Dirk De Pauw had struggled to satisfy the local organisers.
What made the disagreement descend into a total split has not been made public but Merckx even went so far as to suggest he was now questioning appearing at the Tour de France Grand Départ in Brussels in 2019 that was meant to honour the 50th anniversary of his first Tour victory.
"I am disillusioned with ASO. Extremely disillusioned," Merckx said. Before he would consider appearing at the ASO's event in 2019, he said, "a serious discussion will have to take place."
Fifteen years ago, Merckx helped to pioneer the major races in the Middle East, first helping to organise the Tour of Qatar, and then in 2010 the Tour of Oman.
The Tour of Qatar was cancelled this year, with organisers citing financial reasons. Merckx said despite his split with the Tour of Oman, he would like to work with Qatar again to bring the race back. "I am not convinced that the race will never return," he said.