'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 couldnt stand, couldnt 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 cyclings 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.
Merckxs 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 Merckxs favourite victims to recreate the Cannibals successes and torments in vivid detail, and finally uncover the truth behind this unique athlete.show more