Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Greatest rider....

We all need heroes and inspiration. Not least those of us crazy enough to undertake Land's End to John 'O Groats. In the February edition of 'Cycle Sport' is a feature on the 50 Greatest Cyclists of all time. I read it with interest.

Everyone who has seriously ridden a bike knows the answer to the question 'Who was the Greatest'... Who has won most races, dominated the sport etc. It was of course Eddy Merckx - The Cannibal. Eddy was insatiable, he won 40, 50 races a season. He dominated Grand Tours and Classics and everything in between. Merckx was the most complete rider of them all, a figure who loomed over the late 60's and first half of the 70's - it could get mighty chilly in his shadow. Many of his records are unlikely to be equalled.

The great Eddy Merckx
So, just as we know that any countdown of the greatest bands of all time is going to conclude with The Beatles, we know that whichever way we cut it, Eddy Merckx is always going to be top of the pile. Amazingly latter day hero Lance Armstrong could only make No 33 in the top 50!! with a total of 74 victories. To put things in perspective Eddy Merckx made No 1 with 333 victories. 

By any criteria Eddy was the greatest, the finest man ever to race a bike. He holds the record for the most Tour de France stage wins - 34, the most days in the yellow jersey - 96, the most Grand Tour overall wins, 11, he won all five of the sports single day monuments. His tally is simply jaw dropping - Milan-San Remo - 7 times, Liege-Bastonne-Liege 5 times, Paris-Roubaix 3 times, the Tour of Flanders and Tour of Lombardy, twice each, the World Road Race Champion three times, The World Hour record holder - the list just goes on and on. Count all the criteum and kermesse victories and Merckx's total is an astonishing 445 victories!!

Merckx's appetite and strike rate are unrivalled. In 1971 he won almost all the races he entered. There will never be another like him.

We all need heroes - just call me Eddy from now on.

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