Remco Evenepoel at Paris-Nice.

Evenepoel’s father on Remco’s real merger thoughts

"In the merger talks, Remco said: 'I am not going to ride a Cervélo in a World Champion jersey that I earned on a Specialized.'"

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 11.03.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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A few months removed from the failed would-be merger between Soudal-Quick Step and Visma-Lease a Bike, Remco Evenepoel’s father Patrick has divulged some of the details of what was going on behind the scenes amid all the turmoil.

In a story over at Het Nieuwbslad, Patrick Evenepoel quotes his son as having said, “I am being dropped here into a situation that I did not want. The whole story doesn’t interest me,” when presented with the possibility of moving over into the Visma squad as part of a “merger” that had the look of a takeover.

Remco Evenepoel reportedly had conversations with Visma team boss Richard Plugge and sport director Merijn Zeeman, in which the Dutchmen laid out their vision for Evenepoel’s proposed arrival into their team. Apparently, Plugge and Zeeman “appreciated that directness” that Evenepoel had shown when expressing his initial lack of interest towards the project, and Evenepoel himself “became impressed” in their conversations. That would suggest that things were progressing smoothly at first, but according to Patrick Evenepoel, the expected change of bike brands was a no-go for Remco.

“Remco held on to Specialized and that’s what happened,” Patrick Evenepoel told Het Nieuwsblad. “Don’t forget: Remco’s first real racing bike was a Specialized, an S-Works that he received from Patrick Lefevere and that still hangs in the garage at our home. The bond is now very strong. In the merger talks, Remco said: ‘I am not going to ride a Cervélo in a World Champion jersey that I earned on a Specialized.’ Since then, [Specialized founder] Mike Sinyard has really taken him seriously.”

As if the prospect of having to make an unwanted change of bikes weren’t bad enough for the World Time Trial Champion’s morale, Evenepoel apparently experienced further frustration in October as the turmoil of uncertainty continued to roil the team.

According to Patrick Evenepoel, his son had “made a reservation in a restaurant in Bergamo for thirty-five people,” when in the area for Il Lombardia. “Ultimately, two of the team emerged: Mattia Cattaneo and Ilan Van Wilder. Because of that whole situation, Remco really had a hard time mentally this winter.”

For his father, it was important to point out that Remco was troubled by the possibility that, in addition to the other issues, so many people would have lost their jobs in the takeover.

“People need to realize how the whole story works. The idea that Remco wanted to leave without looking back is completely wrong,” Patrick Evenepoel said. “Twist it as you like: in the merger story, 60 people would have been on the street, on one side or the other. Remco didn’t want that. From bus driver James to the people at the station, that would have been drama, wouldn’t it.”

As it turned out – assumedly to the relief of Evenepoel and plenty of others in the team – the merger did not go through. As such, he rode on into 2024 with the same team that he has called home since turning pro in 2019, and riding the same bike brand too.

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