Édouard Louis Joseph Merckx, known worldwide as Eddy Merckx, is considered one of the best cyclists of all time for his brilliant career. The Belgian cyclist, nicknamed "The Cannibal" for his physical condition to run in different cycling disciplines, has won the Road Cycling World Championship three times, the Giro d'Italia five times, the Tour de France three times and in one the Tour of Spain, and also, the five Cycling Monuments (Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastoña-Liège and the Giro de Lombardy).
In 1974 he won the Triple Crown. The greatest achievement that a cyclist can achieve; win the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Cycling World Cup in the same year; achievement that very few have been able to match, including the Irishman Stephen Roche. His dedication, effort and physical potential have made him a great legend for world cycling, and furthermore, his humility and charisma have always given him the affection and support of the public. If cycling is one of your great hobbies and you want to know more details about the personal and professional life of one of the best cyclists in history, this post interests you!
1. Where and when was Eddy Merckx born?
The ex-cyclist was born on June 17, 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem, a province located in the Flanders region, Belgium. His parents ran a greengrocer in the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre neighborhood of Brussels, so they moved there when Eddy was very young. On several occasions, the ex-cyclist has mentioned that he was raised in a humble and simple environment, in which he and his two brothers appreciated during their childhood the will, perseverance and hard work with which their parents built their business. These characteristics were inherited by the ex-cyclist from his father, who has always encouraged him to bet on what he wanted without rest.
2. When did you have your first bicycle?
At the age of 8, and already passionate about cycling, his parents bought him a second-hand road bike with which he would start touring his city from side to side. At that time he was motivated by the impeccable career of Stan Ockers, a Belgian cyclist who won several stages of the Tour de France and won the green jersey twice before dying from a fall in a race in Antwerp in 1956.
3.Did you know that he was a bad student in school?
Eddy was not a great lover of school, and therefore, he took refuge in all the sports that were offered there; tennis, soccer, basketball... His bad grades made the exciter drop out of school at a very young age and confront his father on several occasions, who despite not liking the idea, supported his decision to bet on what was his passion: racing. cycling.
4. At what age did you start your cycling career?
It was in the summer of 1961 when Eddy, at just 16 years old, participated in his first cycling race held in the city of Laeken, Brussels (Belgium). After a very common place in said competition, the Belgian achieved his first victory 3 years later in the Amateur World Championship. The following year Eddy began as a professional cyclist accumulating numerous victories and successes with one of the best track records in history. It was at this precise moment that he was nicknamed "The Cannibal". After five years of turning professional and having achieved great results, he was named the best world athlete in 1970. Two years later, he achieved the world hour record, completing a mark of 49,431km at the Mexico City velodrome.
5. When did Eddy Merckx retire?
In 1977 the Belgian ex-cyclist participated in his last race as a professional cyclist in the Cycling World Championship held in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. Despite having doubted whether to participate in this last competition, Eddy launched himself with great will to achieve a good position in the race, something that did not happen. After finishing the championship, the Belgian ex-cyclist announced his retirement for next year due to his state of fatigue before the competitions.
6. What did he do after he retired?
Eddy, who was already quite tired after the high performance to which he had been subjected for more than 20 years, decided to retire in 1978 after having made history in the world of cycling and started a new project related to this discipline : the creation of a bicycle brand with the same name. In 1980, it began manufacturing Belgian-designed professional road bikes that offer distinction, personality and simplicity to all those who decide to try them. Of course, its price is not so affordable... You can find them from 700 to 7000 euros.
7. How many children did the excicist have?
The excicist had two children from his marriage to Claudine Acou in 1967, Sabrina and Axel. The latter followed in his father's footsteps, entering the world of cycling from a very young age and managed to be the best Belgian cyclist in the Tour de France six times, as well as winning a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics. Axel retired from cycling in 2007 to become General Manager of the Hagens Berman Axeon US Cycling Team.
8. Do you know his grandson, also a professional athlete?
His daughter Sabrina married the impeccable Argentine tennis player Eduardo Massó, and as a result of this marriage Luca Massó was born, the grandson of Eddy Merckx and a professional field hockey player who won the medal of gold with the Argentine team.
9. Did you know that he co-owned the Tour of Qatar?
The former cyclist, in addition to founding his own brand of road bikes, was also involved in numerous projects related to cycling. Among them are his role as director of the Belgian Cycling Team between 1986 and 1996 and his role as director of the Tour of Flanders, but one of his most important contributions to the world of cycling was his collaboration in designing the Tour de Qatar, of which he became co-owner in 2002.
10. When did you become involved in a doping issue?
It was in 1969, in the Giro d'Italia, when the Belgian former cyclist was disqualified for having tested positive for amphetamines. Despite its plea of innocence, the Italian Cycling Federation upheld its decision until external analyzes were repeated again. A few days before the end of the period that the Federation had granted the Belgian cyclist, the UCI lifted its sanction and announced that it could have been a mistake on the part of the health organization. After this commotion there was some speculation that pointed to the Italian Federation as guilty after having tried at all costs for Felice Gimondi to win the Giro d'Italia that same year. In summary, several ex-cyclists who participated in said competition affirm that it was a conspiracy.
After having learned more closely about the achievements and failures of one of the best cyclists in history, we can affirm that his dedication, talent and passion for the discipline are the main culprits for the Belgian's reaching this far. Having achieved more than 500 victories throughout his professional career, among which the Triple Crown stands out, Eddy's career in cycling is nothing but impeccable and fully deserves all the titles he holds