Eddy Merckx

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Eddy Merckx as driver of the Molteni team (1973)

Eddy Merckx (* 17th June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem , Belgium ; actually Édouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx ) is a former Belgian professional - cyclist . He won the two most important tours , the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, five times . A large number of cycling experts today consider him the greatest racing driver in cycling history, including Lance Armstrong , Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, as well as the Cycling Hall of Fame .

Merckx is - measured by both the quantity and the quality of its victories - the most successful male cyclist in cycling history. In addition, he achieved outstanding performances in all disciplines of cycling: he won classics , big tours and six-day races , he dominated mountain stages, time trials and sprints. Because of his hunger for victory, he was also called the cannibal .

The “Mémoire du cyclisme” website lists 525 victories on the road , 98 victories on the track and two victories in cross-country races .

From 1969 to 1975 he won the Super Prestige Pernod season classification seven times .

Athletic career

Driver profile and development

Eddy Merckx at the 1966 World Championships on the Nürburgring

Just turned 18 and promoted to the amateur class , Belgium's trainer and later father-in-law Lucien Acou took him to the national team in 1963, where he competed in the Tour of Sweden and both starts in the GDR (against top GDR drivers Täve Schur , Klaus Ampler , Manfred Weißleder and others) finished as winner in the race around Sebnitz and in Dresden .

After Merckx - just 19 years old - had become the youngest title holder in the history of the amateur world championships on September 5, 1964 , he won the classic Milan – Sanremo for the first time at the age of 20 in 1966 after switching to the professionals . In the next two years, his later dominance in international cycling began to emerge: He won numerous other classics for the first time at the road world championship (1967) for professionals and in 1968 his first major national tour, the Giro d'Italia .

This was the beginning of the “Merckx era”, as the years 1968–1975 would later be called. He spent this era with the professional teams FAEMA (1968–1970) and Molteni (1971–1975).

In 1969 he took part in the Tour de France for the first time and immediately dominated the race in an outstanding manner: In addition to the overall victory, he took seven stage wins and won with a margin of 17:54 minutes. He finished the most difficult stage in the Pyrenees over the Tourmalet and Aubisque passes with 7th Minutes and 56 seconds ahead. In addition, he was the only driver in history to win the mountain classification (the dotted jersey was only introduced in 1975) and the winner's green jersey in the points classification . As a 24-year-old, the Belgian had won almost all important cycling races. In the following year, he even won eight stages on the Tour with a lead of 12:41 minutes.

The nickname "The cannibal" goes back to teammate Christian Raymond at Peugeot-BP . He told his 12-year-old daughter about Merckx's insatiable hunger for victory, which led to him not letting anyone else win. The girl then referred to him as a cannibal, the nickname established itself.

Balance sheet

By the end of his career in May 1978, Merckx had won more races than any other driver and had countless personal bests. He won the Tour de France five times as second of currently four drivers (the fifth, Lance Armstrong, was deleted from the list of winners), wore the yellow jersey for a total of 96 days (record) and won 34 stage wins (record). The French sports newspaper L'Équipe voted Merckx the greatest Tour Champion in 2003 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France.

But in contrast to other Tour winners, he also won practically every other race: He also won the Giro d'Italia five times (record, together with Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi ). Since he also won the Vuelta a España in 1973 , he is one of only six drivers who managed to win all three Grand Tours . He won the Tour de Suisse in 1974.

The bike with which Merckx set the hour record in 1972, exhibited in the metro station named after him in Brussels (2006)

In addition, there are three world championship titles on the road for Merckx (record, together with Alfredo Binda , Rik Van Steenbergen , Óscar Freire and Peter Sagan ). His list of successes in the biggest one-day races, the five so-called monuments of cycling, is also exceptional . He was able to win every “monument” at least twice (record, only Rik Van Looy and Roger De Vlaeminck managed at least one victory each): He won seven times Milan – Sanremo and five times Liège – Bastogne – Liège , making him the record winner of these races, as well as three times Paris – Roubaix and twice the Lombardy Tour and the Flanders Tour .

He also won a total of 17 times in the six-day races held indoors in winter .

In 1972 he also set the world hour record in Mexico City : on a track bike with a steel frame and particularly light equipment, he drove 49.431 km in 60 minutes. This world record was only surpassed 30 years later under the same conditions - use of a normal track bike with the traditional bow handlebar, which forces significantly less favorable aerodynamics.

At his first start at a UCI road world championship , he was amateur world champion in 1964 ; in the last participation in 1977 33rd and penultimate.


Eddy Merckx was expelled from the Giro d'Italia in 1969 for doping under circumstances that have not yet been clarified . He himself stressed his innocence and accused the organizers of deliberate manipulation. He was originally banned until the beginning of the Tour de France, but the ban was later lifted - this enabled him to win his first Tour. During the tour, allegations emerged that he had been given doping agents by the then tour doctor Lucien Maigre, which was denied by him. In 1973 and 1977 he tested positive in the one-day races Lombardeirundfahrt and Walloon Arrow . After the end of his career, it became known that Merckx regularly used corticosteroids , but it was not until 1980 that they made it onto the UCI doping list.


Eddy Merckx (2012)

Merckx was three times World Sportsman of the Year (1969, 1971, 1974), twice European Sportsman of the Year (1969, 1970) and was voted Sportsman of the Century in Belgium. After all, the UCI World Cycling Association named him the best racing cyclist of the 20th century.

In 1996 Merckx was raised to the nobility by the Belgian king and awarded the title of baron . A subway station named after Eddy Merckx opened in Brussels in 2003 .

In December 2005, the former professional cyclist took third place on Belgian television in an election for the greatest Belgian of all time and was the highest ranked surviving candidate.

On the occasion of his 65th birthday, the Belgian Post issued a stamp with the portrait of Eddy Merckx in 2010 (value 1.18 euros).

In 2014 he was named “ Champion des champions de légende ” by the French sports magazine L'Équipe .

Private citizen and entrepreneur

Eddy Merckx runs a company that makes racing bikes under his name . He built up his company from 1978 with the help of Ugo de Rosa . It has now been sold. In addition, the now defunct English manufacturer Falcon produced a range of bikes under the Molteni Merckx brand .

Merckx also organizes and commentates on many bike races .

The Eddy Merckx Classic Cycle Marathon has been held every year in the Salzburger Land since 2007 , organized by Fuschlsee Tourismus GmbH, and Eddy Merckx has been at the start every year (as of 2016). For the event on September 9, 2018, Merckx was personally in Fuschl.


His son Axel Merckx was also a professional cyclist. For example, he won the bronze medal in road racing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens . He ended his active cycling career as a professional for the T-Mobile team in the 2007 season and became sporting director .

Successes (selection)

Important placements

Grand Tour 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
Orange jersey Vuelta a España - - - - - - - - 1 - - - -
Maglia Rosa Giro d'Italia - - 9 1 DNF 1 - 1 1 1 - 8th -
Yellow jersey Tour de France - - - - 1 1 1 1 - 1 2 - 6th
Legend: DNF: did not finish , abandoned or withdrawn from the race due to timeout.
Monument to cycling 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
Milan – Sanremo - 1 1 - 1 - 1 1 - - 1 1 -
Tour of Flanders - - 3 9 1 3 - 7th 3 3 1 6th -
Paris – Roubaix - 15th 8th 1 2 1 5 7th 1 4th 2 - 11
Liège – Bastogne – Liège - 8th 2 - 1 3 1 1 1 - 1 6th 6th
Lombardy tour - 2 3 3 3 - 1 1 2 2 - - -
World Championship 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
Road racing 29 12 1 8th DNF 29 1 4th 4th 1 8th 5 33
Individual time trial
Team time trial
Legend: DNF: did not finish , abandoned or withdrawn from the race due to timeout.


  • 1965: Solo Supéria
  • 1966-1967: Peugeot-BP
  • 1968–1970: FAEMA or FAEMINO
  • 1971-1976: Molteni
  • 1977: Fiat
  • 1978: C&A


The entrepreneur Pierre Neuville named his successful board game "Eddy Merckx" after him.


  • Helmer Boelsen: Eddy Merckx , Copress-Verlag, Munich 1973 (without ISBN)
  • William Fotheringham: Merckx: half man, half bike , London: Yellow Jersey Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-224-07448-3
  • Daniel Friebe: Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal. Ebury Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-09-194314-1
  • Robert Laffont: Eddy Merckx. Coureur Cycliste , Editions Robert Laffont, Paris, 1974 (without ISBN)
  • Johny Vansevenant: Het jaar van Eddy Merckx. 69. Lannoo, Tielt, 2019, ISBN 978-94-014-5747-7

See also

Web links

Commons : Eddy Merckx  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. velonews.com of June 17, 2005: Happy Birthday, Eddy .
  2. focus.de from July 5, 2010: Lance Armstrong: Eddy Merckx is the king of cycling
  3. a b Rider biography, Eddy Merckx on cyclinghalloffame.com ( Memento from September 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Palmarès d'Eddy Merckx (Bel). Mémoire du cyclisme, accessed March 25, 2015 .
  5. ^ George Vecsey: Appetite for Racing, and for Winning . In: The New York Times . August 26, 2011, ISSN  0362-4331 ( nytimes.com [accessed February 3, 2020]).
  6. Bicycle Guide magazine, March 1991: Eddy and the Hour (English)
  7. Helmer Boelsen: Eddy Merckx , Copress-Verlag, Munich 1973, ISBN 978-3-7679-0013-4 , there Chapter IV: Doping and medicine
  8. L'Équipe of March 13, 2007
  9. welt.de of July 20, 1998: Doping scandals from Charly Gaul to Chiappucci
  10. The greatest Belgians of all time ( Memento from June 18, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  11. Eddy Merckx turns 65 today In: bazonline.ch of June 17, 2010.
  12. 50 years ago - Eddy Merckx won the Giro d'Italia for the first time . In: Deutschlandfunk . ( deutschlandfunk.de [accessed June 12, 2018]).
  13. Eddy Merckx on VeloBase.com, accessed on August 8, 2014
  14. Eddy Merckx: Sportsman and Icon. (No longer available online.) In: salzburgerland.com. February 14, 2017, archived from the original on September 25, 2017 ; accessed on May 30, 2017 .
  15. Eddy Merckx Classic 2018 picture report bikeboard.at, September 11, 2018, accessed on October 6, 2018.
  16. “The Best is yet to come” - The eventful life of Pierre Neuville on pokerolymp.com from July 20, 2015, accessed on January 15, 2016