Acquisition keeps troubled business founded by cycling legend in Belgian hands

The surname of the man many consider to be the greatest cyclist of all time, Eddy Merckx, will continue to feature on bike frames after Ridley confirmed it had bought the troubled fellow Belgian brand.

Founded by the five-time Tour de France winner in 1980, two years after he retired from a stellar racing career that saw him achieve the unique distinction of winning all three Grand Tours, all five Monuments, and the road world championship.

Merckx himself sold most of his shareholding in the business in 2008, and last year it came under new ownership, with buyers Van Diepensteyn NV pledging to double the capital of the business, Eddy Merckx Cycles from €14 million to €27.7 million.

In a press release today Race Production – Ridley’s holding company – confirmed that it had bought the Merckx brand, according to a report on De Standaard.

The acquisition will reportedly enable Merckx to build grow internationally and harness economies of scale.

Bart van Muylder, CEO of Van Diepensteyn NV, said: "We sold almost 1,500 Merckx bikes in the United States last year, our limited scale in particular has a negative impact on our buying and selling prices and means that the fixed costs keep our financial results under pressure.

"Also, as a small player we do not have sufficient clout to win the strongest international distribution partners for us.

“If the Merckx brand really wants to break through globally, it had to partner with a big player.

“We found it our responsibility to keep this Belgian heritage in Belgian hands.

“Ridley, with its strapline "We are Belgium", its worldwide distribution and presence in the WorldTour peloton, is the ideal company to continue the tribute to Eddy Merckx."

Ridley CEO Jochim Aerts commented: "This brand has so much history and means so much for the Belgian bicycle industry.

“Eddy Merckx and Ridley are the best-known Belgian bicycle brands and they can now strengthen each other.

“We guarantee the survival and further development of this brand.

“This acquisition creates a kind of cross-pollination of the two Belgian brands within our company."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.