Eddy Merckx undefeated, 50 years after his first Tour victory in 1969
The Cannibal, the Tamburlaine of the Pedals, the Beethoven of the Bike … these are just a few of the nicknames that our fellow compatriot and the greatest racing cyclist of all time has picked up
Nonetheless, these rather fearsome associations stand in sharp contrast to his humble and mild-mannered nature. But bravado, willpower, staying power and a strong character are also things that typified him. He was even considered to be very exacting by his mechanics. And don't forget: he is a true Belgian, a liaison between the communities, someone who everyone, young and old, can be proud of and doff their cap to.
The Tour management extended the Grand Départ 2019 from the Vendée to Brussels specially for Eddy Merckx, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first Tour victory and the 100th of the first yellow jersey, which he has worn for the longest. An homage of the highest honour. Even as a small boy, he delivered the shopping for the customers of his father's grocery store to their homes on his bike. The former champion, now 74 and with no less than 525 victories to his name, has lost nothing of his former shine. Ad boys used to fall over themselves to snap him up for their brand back then, from washing powder to cooking oil and even cigarettes (well, times were different…). He is still very busy taking requests to appear in interviews, for lectures, book presentations, exhibitions and all manner of other public events. There is even a metro station and a town square named after our top Belgian.