Vincent Lavenu's AG2R La Mondiale team switched to Eddy Merckx machines from Factor frames at the end of the 2018 season. Although rider Hubert Dupont's name-sticker on this frame reads '2018' in small numerals, it's just the sticker that must be leftover from that season, as the team was still on light-blue Factor bikes that year.
This stealthier-looking black frame is, according to the seller, a Ridley Helium SLX underneath the paintwork. But before there's any kind of outcry, consider that both the Ridley and Eddy Merckx brands are owned by the Belgian Cycling Factory group.
The Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset suggests that this is a spare bike – the riders' 'main' bikes ran Dura-Ace Di2 – or it's a 'first' bike and has just been rebuilt with Shimano's second-tier, but still excellent, electronic groupset. Indeed, the bike has a brand-new Fulcrum Racing 3 wheelset with Pirelli P Zero tyres, rather than the Mavic wheels and Vredestein used by the team.
The Stockeu69 name of the frame of course refers to the Côte de Stockeu climb that features in Belgian one-day Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Merckx holds the record for the most wins at Liège with five victories, and 1969 was the year he first won it.
As for Dupont, the now 39-year-old Frenchman retired at the end of the 2019 season – and perhaps this was even the last frame he raced on at the Gran Piemonte last October. He'll be able to look back on a decent last season, which included eighth place on stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps, and a fine 15-year career that included plenty of good performances – 11th overall at the Giro d'Italia in both 2011 and 2016, for example – and a fair few near-misses along the way, as well as completing 22 of the 23 Grand Tours he started, including last year's Giro.
Dupont rode mainly in the service of others at AG2R, which was where he spent all but the first year of his pro career in 2005, when he rode for RAGT Semences.
The seller of his bike is in fact UK bike shop Paul Milnes Cycles, in Bradford, which many readers will be familiar with, and perhaps have bought a bike or bits from before. They're looking for £2,999.99 (US$3,770) for it, and there's free postage on it if you're also based in the UK.
We're constantly on the lookout for unique and rare cycling relics on eBay. If you have any suggestions or leads, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'eBay Finds' in the subject line.
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