Arguably the greatest cyclist of all time, the legendary Eddy Merckx, recently worried the cycling world when news broke that he had been urgently hospitalized to undergo intestinal surgery.

Fortunately, despite looking noticeably thinner, the 78-year-old Belgian was fit enough to return to the public eye on Friday with an appearance at the opening of a new cycling museum at the foot of the Col de la Redoute, with the five-time Tour de France winner assuring fans that “I’m fine.”

After having a major part of his intestine removed in the early hours of March 27, Merckx is back to life. “Everything went well,” said his son Axel Merckx, who accompanied his father to the museum opening.

“He still needs time to recover. Let’s not forget that he will soon be 79 years old, then things will go a little slower. He is going out again for the first time since the operation. He looks good and he’s not feeling bad. It’s good to see him back on his feet.”

Despite the trials and tribulations of the last month, Merckx has kept up with what’s happening in the peloton, and the five-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner is looking forward to this year’s 2024 edition, which will feature several of the world’s top road cyclists.

“Stephen Williams surprised me in the Flèche Wallonne; he can aim for the podium. And I hope our Belgians can also show themselves. It’s encouraging that Maxim Van Gils is not afraid of bad weather,” said Merckx.

However, it is Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogacar who have caught the Belgian’s attention the most. “Although people say he saved himself in the Amstel, I thought Mathieu looked a little less fresh there,” he says. “It’s normal, after the efforts of the Tour and Roubaix. Even for a champion like him, that starts to weigh on him after a while. That’s why I’m going to Pogacar, because he has the advantage of freshness.”