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Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal

Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal

Hardback

By (author) Daniel Friebe

List price $26.62

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Paperback $12.85
  • Publisher: Ebury Press
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 234mm x 34mm | 621g
  • Publication date: 25 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0091943140
  • ISBN 13: 9780091943141
  • Sales rank: 185,828

Product description

The whole point of a race is to find a winner...I chose to race, so I chose to win.' For 14 years between 1965 and 1978, cyclist Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx simply devoured his rivals, their hopes and their careers. His legacy resides as much in the careers he ruined as the 445 victories - including five Tour de France wins and all the monument races - he amassed in his own right. So dominant had Merckx become by 1973 that he was ordered to stay away from the Tour for the good of the event. Stage 17 of the 1969 Tour de France perfectly illustrates his untouchable brilliance. Already wearing the yellow jersey on the col du Tourmalet, the Tour's most famous peak, Merckx powered clear and rode the last 140 kilometres to the finish-line in jaw-dropping solitude, eight minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. Merckx's era has been called cycling's Golden Age. It was full of memorable characters who, at any other time, would all have gone on to become legends. Yet Merckx's phenomenal career overshadowed them all. How did he achieve such incredible success? And how did his rivals really feel about him? Merckx failed drug tests three times in his career - were they really stitch ups as he claimed? And what of the crash at a track meet in Blois, France that killed Merckx's pacer Fernand Wambst, which Merckx claimed deeply affected him psychologically and physically? Or the attack by a spectator in 1975? Despite his unique achievements, we know little about the Cannibal beyond his victories. This is the first comprehensive biography of Merckx in English, and finally exposes the truth behind this legendary man.

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Author information

Daniel Friebe is one of Britain's leading cycling journalists and, at 30, a youthful veteran of nine Tours de France. Daniel is the Features Editor of Procycling Magazine, widely regarded as the world's most authoritative English-language cycling magazine. His feature-writing and news reporting on a range of subjects - including the controversial topic of doping - has earned him an enviable reputation, reflected in his frequent appearances on international radio and television as a cycling expert. Daniel also collaborated with Mark Cavendish on his bestselling Boy Racer. He has also written for publications including the Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, FourFourTwo, Spin Cricket Monthly, Channel4 Test Match Magazine.

Review quote

Daniel Friebe is one of Britain's leading cycling journalists and, at 30, a youthful veteran of nine Tours de France. Daniel is the Features Editor of Procycling Magazine, widely regarded as the world's most authoritative English-language cycling magazine. His feature-writing and news reporting on a range of subjects - including the controversial topic of doping - has earned him an enviable reputation, reflected in his frequent appearances on international radio and television as a cycling expert. Daniel also collaborated with Mark Cavendish on his bestselling Boy Racer. He has also written for publications including the Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, FourFourTwo, Spin Cricket Monthly, Channel4 Test Match Magazine.

Back cover copy

'This kid just arrived, this big, handsome Belgian kid with high cheekbones, but pretty quickly we all realised that on the bike he was a brute. He came at us from every angle, slaughtered every one of us, like some rabid wild man, some barbarian. He could have been the greatest footballer, the greatest skier, the greatest boxer of all time,only he chose cycling. But Merckx also had this great drama in his life: he couldn’t stand, couldn’t tolerate, losing.' DINO ZANDEGÙ, 1967 Tour of Flanders champion 'The whole point of a race is to find a winner…I choose to race so I choose to win’ EDDIE MERCKX Between 1965 and 1978 Edouard Merckx took over the world of cycling, amassing an unequalled 525 victories and demolishing anything and anyone who got in his way. Merckx was cycling’s Pelé, its Ali, even its Elvis. He was better and stronger than his rivals, but he was also different to anything that had come before. His fourteen-year reign would revolutionise the sport. The man who raced was a cannibal who devoured his rivals, with eyes only for victory. He was unmatched and insatiable; some even said he had magic in his legs. But the man who stepped onto the podium was an enigma. Unable to get to the bottom of what gave the Cannibal his hunger, frustrated journalists concluded that Eddy Merckx must simply be a machine. The truth was more complicated. Merckx was plagued with nerves and self-doubt, which he could only escape when racing. Off his bike, he obsessed about every ache, despite enduring enormous physical pain to be first to cross the line. His peers reconciled themselves to defeat, but Merckx feared losing more than anything else. And when the inevitable end of his career dawned he was ill equipped to recognise or admit his decline. Merckx’s era was a golden age full of memorable characters who, at any other time, would have become legends. Daniel Friebe has interviewed Felice Gimondi, Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Bernard Thévenet, Raymond Poulidor, Walter Godefroot and many more of Merckx’s favourite victims to recreate the Cannibal’s successes and torments in vivid detail, and finally uncover the truth behind this unique athlete.