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Eddy Merckx

From Academic Kids

Baron Eddy Merckx (born Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx on June 17, 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem, Belgium) is considered by many to be the greatest cyclist of the 20th Century. He is the five-time champion of the two most important races in professional cycling, the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, and is one of only four cyclists to have won all three of the Grand Tours (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España) in a career. In his 13 year professional career, Merckx raced 1582 times on the road and won 445 races [1] (http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/8230.0.html), and is one of only three riders (all Belgian) to have won all five Classic cycle races at least once during his career. He also won the season-long Super Prestige Pernod International competition a record seven consecutive times.

In 1996, Merckx was awarded the title of Baron in his home country of Belgium. During his racing career, he was sometimes known as the Einstein of the two-wheelers, The Cannibal, or, courtesy of Jacques Goddet, Le Géant.

Merckx's son Axel is currently a bicycle racer himself. He rode in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour de France, won the 2000 Belgian national championships, and the bronze medal in the road cycling race during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.

Having retired from competitive cycling, Eddy Merckx is now a bicycle manufacturer [2] (http://www.eddymerckx.be) and race commentator. When asked for his advice to younger riders who wanted to become professionals, he is reputed to have simply said, "Ride lots."

Contents

Racing career

In his Tour de France debut in 1969, Merckx won the yellow jersey (overall leader), the green jersey (best sprinter) and the red polka-dotted jersey ("King of the Mountains" - best climber in the mountain stages). No other cyclist has achieved this trifecta in the Tour de France, and only Laurent Jalabert has been able to match this feat at the grand tours level, in the 1995 Vuelta a Espana. If the young riders' white jersey (for best rider in the Tour that is under 25 years of age) had existed at that time, Merckx would have won that as well, as he had only just turned 24.

Merckx has been quoted in saying that his first Tour de France victory was his best, because it had followed his expulsion from the Giro d'Italia in that same year due to his alleged use of doping products. He was quoted in the 2002 Cycle Sport magazine as saying, "My first victory in the Tour de France in 1969 was my best one ever. It was a contrast to what the Italians did to me in the Giro a couple of months earlier. They tried to bribe me first, offered me some money, but when I refused to sell my personal chances they put dope in my bidon. I was suspended, but eventually was able to ride the Tour and I won it." A photo of him sobbing on a bed while interviewed graced the newspapers at the time, and the Belgian prince sent a private plane to retrieve him.

Other racers called him the Cannibal because Merckx refused to ride tactically, preferring to go flat out at all times, and wanted to win every single race he participated in. During his peak years as a racer, he is said to have cycled over 35,000 km a year. While climbing the steep, severe Mont Ventoux in 1970 to a stage win, he rode so strongly and pushed himself so hard that after he finished, oxygen was administered.

In 1975, he attempted to win his sixth Tour de France, but became a victim of violence. Many Frenchmen were upset that a Belgian might beat the record of five wins set by Frenchman Jacques Anquetil. Merckx held the yellow jersey for eight days of the race, which raised his record to 95 total days, but during stage 14 a spectator leapt from the crowd and punched him in the kidneys. He kept racing with a double fracture and took medications. The pain in combination with the medicine caused him to fall during the race. He eventually ran out of energy and lost his lead but on the last stage he showed one last sign of defiance by sprinting ahead of the peloton. He would never win the Tour de France again.

Despite his impressive victories, Merckx was not immune to injuries. In 1969 he crashed in a derny race towards the end of the season. A pacer and a cyclist fell in front of Merckx's pacer, and caused both him and Merckx to crash. Merckx's pacer was killed instantly, and Merckx suffered a bad concussion and fell unconscious. This accident cracked a vertebra and twisted his pelvis. He admitted in interviews that, because of his injuries, his riding was never the same.

In addition to his other achievements, Merckx set the one hour track speed record in Mexico City in 1972; is one of the few cyclists to win Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, three times; and won 17 six-day races. He retired from racing in 1978.

Retirement

Having retired from competitive cycling, Eddy Merckx is now a bicycle manufacturer [3] (http://www.eddymerckx.be) and race commentator. He stopped riding a bicycle almost altogether, saying that his stomach issues cause pain. This lack of cycling activity caused him to gain some weight since his retirement. However, he still shows up on a bike from time to time, for example in a 2-up time trial for charity in 2003 where he paired up with his son Axel. More recently surgical procedure corrected a long-time stomach ailment. "I underwent an esophagus operation on May 12, 2004", Merckx said in an interview with a Belgian newspaper. "I have suffered with that since I was young. If I had have been born with a good stomach, then I might have had an even better career. Some journalists asked me whether I had cancer. When I lay on the operating table I weighed 110 kilograms. Since the end of August, my weight has stabilised at 82 kilograms." He has since competed in the cycling leg of a triathlon in Israel.

Significant victories by race

Grand Tours

Other tours

Classic cycle races

World titles

Track races

Significant victories by year

1964

  • World Amateur Road Race Champion

1966

  • Milan-San Remo
  • Trofeo Angelo Baracchi, with Ferdi Bracke

1967

  • World Pro Road Race
  • Milan-San Remo
  • La Flèche Wallonne
  • Gent-Wevelgem
  • Trofeo Angelo Baracchi, with Ferdi Bracke
  • 2 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Critérium des As

1968

  • Giro d'Italia
  • KoM, Giro d'Italia
  • Points Competition, Giro d'Italia
  • 4 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Tour of Catalonia
  • Tour of Romandy
  • Paris-Roubaix
  • Tre Valli Varesine

1969

  • Tour de France
  • KoM, Tour de France
  • Points Competition, Tour de France
  • 5 stages, Tour de France
  • Paris-Luxembourg
  • Milan-San Remo
  • Tour of Flanders
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Paris-Nice
  • 4 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1970

  • Tour de France
  • KoM, Tour de France
  • 8 stages, Tour de France
  • Giro d'Italia
  • 3 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Paris-Nice
  • Tour of Belgium
  • Paris-Roubaix
  • La Flèche Wallonne
  • Gent-Wevelgem
  • Critérium des As
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1971

  • Tour de France
  • Points Competition, Tour de France
  • 4 stages, Tour de France
  • World Pro Road Race
  • Milan-San Remo
  • Liège-Bastogne- Liège
  • Tour of Lombardy
  • Rund um den Henninger Turm
  • Omloop "Het Volk"
  • Paris-Nice
  • Dauphiné Libéré
  • GP du Midi Libre
  • Tour of Belgium
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1972

  • Tour de France
  • Points Competition, Tour de France
  • 6 stages, Tour de France
  • Giro d'Italia
  • 4 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Milan-San Remo
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Tour of Lombardy
  • La Flèche Wallonne
  • Giro dell'Emilia
  • Giro del Piemonte
  • GP de l'Escaut
  • Trofeo Angelo Baracchi, with Roger Swerts
  • Hour Record - 49.431km
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1973

  • Giro d'Italia
  • Points Competition, Giro d'Italia
  • 6 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • Vuelta a España
  • Points Competition, Vuelta a España
  • 6 stages, Vuelta a España
  • Paris-Roubaix
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Grand Prix des Nations
  • Amstel Gold Race
  • Gent-Wevelgem
  • Omloop "Het Volk"
  • Paris-Brussels
  • GP Fourmies
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1974

  • Tour de France
  • 8 stages, Tour de France
  • Giro d'Italia
  • 2 stages, Giro d'Italia
  • World Pro Road Race
  • Tour of Switzerland
  • Points competition, Tour of Switzerland
  • KoM, Tour of Switzerland
  • 3 stages, Tour of Switzerland
  • Critérium des As
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1975

  • Milan-San Remo
  • Tour of Flanders
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Amstel Gold Race
  • Catalan Week
  • 2 stages, Tour de France
  • 1 stage, Tour of Switzerland
  • Super Prestige Pernod Trophy

1976

  • Milan-San Remo
  • Catalan Week

1977

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