Eddy Merckx will sell the shares of his eponymous Belgin bicycle manufacturing company and retire, Sportwereld.be reported Friday. The famous cycling great started the small factory upon his retirement in 1980, and wishes to step out of the daily grind of business.
With son Axel in Canada about to embark on running Lance Armstrong's U23 developmental team, Merckx senior will sell the majority shares in the business to Sobradis, a Belgian holding company.
"If you've built something yourself, it's always painful to say goodbye to it. But I had no other choice," Merckx, 63 said, "because I do not have a successor who can take over the plant. I've played with the idea of doing something quieter. I've been working since I was 17 - first as a cyclist, then in 1980 in the bicycle factory. The daily management gradually began to weigh on me."
Merckx said that the future of the plant and the staff was central in his decision to sell the majority stake to Sobradis. He will, however, retain his minority shares and remain active in the business as an advisor to the new CEO, Pieter Vansynghel and COO Sven Goeminne.
According to Merckx distributor Gita Sporting Goods, the change of ownership should be wholly transparent as far as the market is concerned and, if anything, the public brand awareness may even increase.
"[Eddy's] still going to be involved in the company and he expected it to move forward with little change to the end consumer," said Gita marketing director Sandy Nicholls. "He seemed to think the new company was going to increase the marketing."
Merckx won 525 races during his career, including five Tours de France, five Giro d'Italias, three world championships, seven Milan-San Remos, three Paris-Roubaixs, and one Tour of Spain.