Edouard Louis Joseph (Eddy) Merckx, born on 17 June 1945, is a former Belgian cyclist who was active in cycling between 1960 and 1978. After this time he remained in the cycling sphere by setting up a bicycle company called 'Eddy Merckx'. With 525 races won, he is known as the best cyclist of all time. In 2000, the French magazine Vélo referred to him as 'the greatest ever in cycling'. Eddy is still proudly and firmly at the top of the eternal world ranking of best cyclists - see procyclingstats.com
HOW EDDY MERCKX STARTED
As a child, Eddy Merckx looked up to cyclist Stan Ockers. When he crashed in 1956 he was, like many of his compatriots, deeply shocked and saddened. With Stan Ockers as his example, Merckx began his cycling career in 1961, where he reached his first milestone just three years later. He became world champion in Sallanches, France. In 1966, he won his first Milan-San Remo. He would subsequently repeat this six more times, a record that has still not been equalled. A year later, he became road cycling world champion in Heerlen, the Netherlands, a distinction he would win two more times.
Eddy Merckx was the first Belgian to win the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). He did so in 1968. Due to doping, he was removed from the race a year later. Merckx was devastated, which he made clear in a controversial interview in an emotional way. To this day, he continues to claim that the doping test was tampered with. Nevertheless, he still won the Giro four other times.
TOUR DE FRANCE
1969 was a peak for Merckx when he won the Tour de France for the first time in his cycling career. This made him a national hero because it had taken 30 years for a Belgian to win the Tour de France. On the climb up the Tourmalet, nobody could keep up with him, nor did this change during the next 140 kilometres. He rode alone on the Soulor, the Aubisque and in the kilometre-long flat finale, and won by eight minutes ahead of the chasers.
Merckx would go on to win the Tour de France four more times: in 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1974. Many think that he was afraid of Luis Ocaña, who won in 1973, and did therefore not participate that year. That year, instead of the Tour, he rode in the Vuelta (the Tour of Spain), which he also won. By winning the Tour de France five times in total, he set a record that has not been broken so far. Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong are the only ones who have been able to match this. Lance Armstrong seemed to extend the record to 7 victories in 2004 and 2005, but these were cancelled in 2012 after a doping report and a confession.
After Merckx had a serious fall during a cycle race in Blois, his cycling, which had been a natural part of his life up until then, became more difficult and more exhausting. Remarkably, despite his injury, he won a very large number of the races he rode. In 1971, he even won 54 of the 120 races.
It is common in the cycling peloton to award the profits in smaller races to the 'domestiques' (a rider who assists the team leader in races), but Eddy Merckx did not follow this “rule”. He did not grant victory to anyone but himself. Because he was the best and in his hunger for victories almost devoured the competition, he was given the nickname The Cannibal.
WORLD TIME RECORD
In Mexico City, Merckx set another world record at the time. In 1972 he broke the world time record, which means that he covered the greatest distance in one hour. This record was broken 12 years later by Francesco Moser, but this was later withdrawn because the bike had a special design, and this was therefore not a fair race compared with the bike Merckx was riding. Since then, to be able to participate in a cycling race, the UCI rules have to be met. So Merckx's record still stands and can only be improved if this is done on a bike that is equal to the one Merckx rode in 1972.
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