[Axel] Merckx was close to rejoining the peloton in a much more active way after opening negotiations this spring to join Rock Racing as a sport director, but the deal fell through following differences with team owner, Michael Ball.
Merckx told the Belgian daily La Deniere Heure that a compromise couldn’t be reached on key issues as who would have control of the team.
“It was an interesting project and I saw it as a true challenge. It’s a big sponsor with a big budget. They have the money to do things in the right way. It’s the type of sponsor to bring a fresh view and an exciting image to cycling,” Merckx said of Rock Racing. “I didn’t have the feeling that I could really make my own decisions. I couldn’t have total control, especially in the recruitment of the riders. It was the patron who had the power to make that decision, but he didn’t know anything about cycling. I didn’t want to work like that.”
Merckx is hoping to return to cycling as a sport director at some point, adding that cycling “is really growing on the other side of the Atlantic,” but it won’t be with Rock Racing.
With the successes that Rock Racing have had thus far this season, I wonder how well they’d do if they actually had someone who knew how to direct a team behind the wheel …