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  1. #1
    Member alaris's Avatar
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    Eddy Merckx - 1969 TDF

    I'm watching on Versus during Stage 8 a small story narrated by Phil Liggett about Eddy Merckx. Vintage black and white 40 year old film is shown and it shows The Cannibal doing his thing.

    So... Question:

    what was "state of the art" in 1969? Cervelo Test Team is riding P4's on the TTT - so what was Eddy Merckx riding? In these days of carbon fibre this, and carbon fibre that... What was Merckx's equipment like? What kind of gearing was du-jour back then?

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    Fascinating recount of the 1971 Tour:

    1971 Tour de France

    The only rider of the period to shake Merckx was the Spaniard, Luis Ocaña, who lived near Mont-de-Marsan in south-west France. Ocaña cared little for Merckx's reputation and attacked him on the Puy-de-Dôme, dropping him but not taking the yellow jersey. Three days later, Ocaña attacked when the race reached the Alps. By Orcières-Merlette he had taken 8m 41s out of the Belgian. By then resentment had built at the way Merckx was winning everything.[25] Chany wrote that

    There was a feeling that it would be good for cycling if he lost.[26]

    The title on the front page of Paris-Match was: "Is Merckx going to kill the Tour?" A rider at the Grand Prix du Midi Libre was quoted as saying: "When you know how much Merckx is earning, you sometimes lose the will to make an effort if you're paid in loose change [rabais]."[26] The resentment left Merckx to chase Ocaña without help. One rider, Celestino Vercelli, said:

    Merckx never let anybody break away. But that day... we don't know.... The start was on an upgrade and he wasn't that brilliant in the beginning. Maybe he was still warming up and his adversaries, Luis Ocaña, Joaquim Agostinho, Joop Zoetemelk, noticed that and decided to break away immediately. It cost him dearly because the stage was long and very hard and there were four or five climbs. He took it badly, because it had never happened to him to be behind and lose so much time. Usually he was the one who was nine minutes in front the others![27]

    A rest day followed and then a stage from Orcières-Merlette to Marseille. It started with 20km downhill, followed by 280km along a valley. Merckx and his team attacked from the start, led by Rini Wagtmans, immediately gaining several minutes. But the speed downhill and the heavier braking needed for bends led rims to overheat, melting the glue that held tyres to the rim. It happened to several riders and Merckx lost some of his team-mates as a result.[27] Vercelli said:

    Merckx needed to recover the nine minutes he lost and he meant to do so by arriving in the valley with several minutes' lead with a good group of about eight riders. This way it would have been very difficult for the rest of the peloton behind to catch them in the 280km of the valley. In the 280km of flat road he personally pulled the group for 250km on his own! And of course the peloton behind him went very fast. There were all Merckx's adversaries and they were all interested in catching him. They all worked together for that. It was basically Merckx alone against all the others.[27]

    Merckx got to Marseille half an hour faster than the fastest expected time. The entire Kas team finished outside the time limit but were reinstated.[28] Only 1,000 spectators were at the finish early enough. Among those too late was the mayor of the city, Gaston Deferre[n 6], who decided to see the finish at the last moment but arrived after the riders had left for the showers and the officials for their hotels. He forbade the Tour to return to the city for the rest of his career.[25] It next stopped in Marseille in 1989, three years after his death.

    Despite a stage that averaged 45.4kmh, Merckx cut Ocaña's lead only to 7m 32s. He waited for the Pyrenees. There, on the col de Mente, hail and rain flooded the road. Pierre Chany said:

    ... [Merckx] attacked in a rage several times, out of the saddle and bent over his bars, Ocaña in his wake. He multiplied the attacks, changed from one side of the road to the other ceaselessly to get Ocaña off his wheel, but in vain.[28]

    Unable to shake off Ocaña on the way up, Merckx tried to do so on the way down. The storm broke at the summit. Pierre Chany said:

    ... worse than a storm, ... a cataclysm. ... "hail fell, visibility was zero, brakes no longer worked; riders were taking the descent with their feet on the road to slow them."[28]

    Merckx missed a bend, hit a low wall and fell. He got up straight away but two spectators had gone to help him. Ocaña ran into them, crashed heavily and was hit by Zoetemelk and then two other riders who had been following by a few seconds. The fall put Ocaña out of the race and gave the yellow jersey to Merckx, although he declined to wear it next morning in respect for the Spaniard.[25][29] Merckx won the Tour by 9m 51s over Zoetemelk and 11m 6s over Lucien van Impe. The same year he became world champion again.

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    Cycler Suzie Green's Avatar
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    Steel bikes, my guess would be of Reynolds 531 tubing as Reynolds 753 hadn't been introduced yet. Or possibly he'd be on Columbus tubing but I don't know if that was available in the 60's? I think at that time they might also still have been on centerpull brakes as well. Can't refresh my memory without pictures. I didn't start following racing until the early 70's but I do remember a lot of details from that era and a bit before.

    Gearing...hmmm, probably my guess would be he's still on 5 speed freewheels as the 6 speeds weren't out until the 70's. No idea on the range, but 42x52 chainrings were normal then. If I had to guess, I don't think the smallest cog in the rear was anything less than 13 or 14 tooth. 14's were pretty normal in the states during the early 70's, can't remember when the 13 tooth cog first appeared.
    Last edited by Suzie Green; 07-11-09 at 08:39 PM.

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    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    back in '65 they were riding something like this.............

    http://erader.zenfolio.com/p10499844...e203#h2991e203

    ed rader
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    http://erader.zenfolio.com/f561244030

  5. #5
    Cycler Suzie Green's Avatar
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    LOL Ed....1865??

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    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Pretty sure his 1969 machine was either a Peugeot PX-10 or a Masi made to look a lot like one.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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    Senior Member icelemmings's Avatar
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    All of this is pretty funny, if you think about it:

    A lot of people ride vintage road bikes as beater/bar/commuter bikes then have a "proper" roadie on the side for racing and such. The thought of racing on an old Peugeot now seems a bit absurd considering what else most of us have in the garage—that said, Merckx was winning grand tours on those very bikes most of us now reserve for lighter courses

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    Photos-Large images

    Here 'ya go ..... '69 Eddie :



    A typical bike may be like this:




    I think these bikes are still fantastic today. I got out of racing before the carbon craze took over, so I really couldn't care less about them. Steel still kicks arse. And don't get caught up in brands, back then they were all made custom for the rider, then decals of the sponsor thrown on. In Eddie's case here .. . . . . he's so good he gets his own name on the frame!!
    Last edited by Garthr; 07-12-09 at 11:12 AM.

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    Cycler Suzie Green's Avatar
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    Wow thanks for all that Garth!! Hmm, I almost would have bet the farm that he would have been on centerpull brakes. And I didn't know that Regina made a 6 speed freewheel in the 60's. At least I had the Reynolds 531 tubing correct!

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    1975 Tour de France

    Merckx's domination in the grands tours ended in 1975. The race started well - he held the yellow jersey for eight days, raising his total to 96 - but ended in disappointment. L'Équipe said:

    The millions of television spectators who saw him ride away on the descent of the col d'Allos, on 13 July that year, were persuaded that the Tour was decided. The Belgian outdistanced all his rivals, first Zoetemelk, then Gimondi and van Impe, finally Thévenet, the last to resist. At the bottom of the descent, he led by a minute and his rivals seemed resigned. They had been under his thumb [subissent sa férule] so long that defeat had become, for them, a habit. But this time there was a climate of open hostility: the public who spat at him; the organisers who hoped secretly that he would lose; the journalists who had run out of stories. [And then] something never seen happened on the Puy de Dôme, where Thévenet and Ocaña had distanced him by about 20 seconds. At 150m before the line, a man, a sort of Dupont-Lajoie[n 9], came out of the crowd and punched Merckx in the kidney, with a blow loaded with hate. The act of a fanatic, an opponent [mécreant], symptomatic of the anti-Merckxism that reigned.[39][40].

    Thévenet attacked Merckx on the col d'Izoard on 14 July, France's national day. Merckx, who was suffering back pain and from the punch, fought back but lost the lead and never regained it. Pierre Chany wrote:

    Those who were there will be slow to forget Bernard Thévenet's six successive attacks in the never-ending climb of the col des Champs, Eddy Merckx's immediate and superb response, the alarming chase by the Frenchman after a puncture delayed him on the descent of the col, the Belgian's attack on the way to the summit of the Allos, his breath-taking plunge towards the Pra-Loup valley, his sudden weakening four kilometres from the top and, to finish, Thévenet's furious push. The end of the race was frenetic. Has Eddy Merckx's long reign in the Tour de France come to an end on the Pra-Loup. Some think so; others believe that it will happen tomorrow.[41]

    A British writer, Graeme Fife, wrote:

    Thévenet caught Merckx, by now almost delirious, 3km from the finish and rode by. The pictures show Merckx's face torn with anguish, eyes hollow, body slumped, arms locked shut on the bars, shoulders a clenched ridge of exertion and distress. Thévenet, mouth gaping to gulp more oxygen, looks pretty well at the limit, too, but his effort is gaining; he's out of the saddle, eyes fixed on the road. He said he could see that one side of the road had turned to liquid tar in the baking heat and Merckx was tyre-deep in it.[42]

    Beside the road, a woman in a bikini waved a sign that said: "Merckx is beaten. The Bastille has fallen."[43] Thévenet had taken the climb on the larger chain-ring[43]. A collision with the Danish rider Ole Ritter broke Merckx's cheekbone. He could not eat solid food and was barely able to talk. During the last stage, he attacked Thévenet but was caught by the peloton. Merckx finished second to Thévenet, second in the mountains and second best sprinter. He said riding the 1975 Tour didn't itself shorten his career, but...
    “ ...the fact that I continued in the 1975 Tour de France after I crashed definitely did shorten it. My build-up to that race had already been problematical, and actually I wasn't in the best of health when I started it. But after the crash, in which I fractured my cheekbone, I suffered like you cannot imagine possible. I could not take in anything but liquids. I had to race on empty. I had to continue for the sake of the race, for honour and for my team-mates. They depended on my prize money. Remember that I still finished second. What I should have done, looking back, was pay my riders what I would have earned out of my own pocket and left the race. Then maybe with my strength rebuilt I could have been competitive in 1976.[4]

    People love a winner, unless they win too much, as highlighted in red above. Perhaps one of the LA haters on this board might buy a one way ticket to Ventoux so they can punch him out! HOWZABOUTIT?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzie Green View Post
    Wow thanks for all that Garth!! Hmm, I almost would have bet the farm that he would have been on centerpull brakes. And I didn't know that Regina made a 6 speed freewheel in the 60's. At least I had the Reynolds 531 tubing correct!
    He may have had a 5 speed FW in '69 . . . . the book these are from is from the early 70's . . . so 6 speed FW's may or may not have been there in '69. Whatever it is on his bike in the photo .... it looks like a straight corn cob 13-17 or 18. It was either a flat stage or they just pushed big gears!

    I believe '69 was the first year of the Campy sidepulls. There's also a photo in the book of some drilled out sidepulls from the "69 Giro. That must have been a bit radical back then!

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    Senior Member icelemmings's Avatar
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    Ah, this is so interesting. I would love to have watched them ride. Given where the shift levers were attached, the rider is not able to shift as quickly. I'd like to see how that would have effected the attacks/breakaway chases.

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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzie Green View Post
    Wow thanks for all that Garth!! Hmm, I almost would have bet the farm that he would have been on centerpull brakes. And I didn't know that Regina made a 6 speed freewheel in the 60's. At least I had the Reynolds 531 tubing correct!
    Campy sidepulls were a definate downgrade from centerpulls. Not as much stopping power and less modulation. But if you wanted Tullio's sponsorship, you took what you got.

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    Senior Member iab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icelemmings View Post
    Ah, this is so interesting. I would love to have watched them ride. Given where the shift levers were attached, the rider is not able to shift as quickly. I'd like to see how that would have effected the attacks/breakaway chases.



    Your telling me the half second it takes to shift on the downtube versus the tenth of a second on STI makes a difference? Rumor has it Coppi could shift a cambio corsa out of the saddle in a full sprint.

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    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icelemmings View Post
    Ah, this is so interesting. I would love to have watched them ride. Given where the shift levers were attached, the rider is not able to shift as quickly. I'd like to see how that would have effected the attacks/breakaway chases.
    go back to the early 90s and watch the indurain/rominger TDF battles. rominger rode mavic so he used downtube shifters....but he also used zap (electric) in the TTs.

    i also recall zenon jaskula, a GC contender, using DT shifters on a TT bike which as i recall was nothing more than a road bike with clip-ons.

    another time i remember indurain was racing a campy-equipped MTB in i think a charity race. he had those huge thumbshifters while the others were using shimano SLR.

    that was in the day when some believed that a shimano-equipped bike would never win the TDF and almost everyone used TIME pedals .

    ed rader
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    http://erader.zenfolio.com/f561244030

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    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    He may have had a 5 speed FW in '69 . . . . the book these are from is from the early 70's . . . so 6 speed FW's may or may not have been there in '69. ...
    Five speed was the norm on top end bikes until '73 or thereabouts.

    Neat Picture from '69. I know at some point, he was riding Peugeot, Kessels, and a Masi painted like a Peugeot (for some stages at least). Didn't realize he had his own bicycle brand as early as he did.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icelemmings View Post
    All of this is pretty funny, if you think about it:

    A lot of people ride vintage road bikes as beater/bar/commuter bikes then have a "proper" roadie on the side for racing and such. The thought of racing on an old Peugeot now seems a bit absurd considering what else most of us have in the garage—that said, Merckx was winning grand tours on those very bikes most of us now reserve for lighter courses
    Hey. I ride those vintage bikes the vast majority of the time. The new stuff is a little more efficient, and a few pounds lighter, but I enjoy riding one of my $500 "just like the pros rode back in the day" bikes more than I would/do a new one.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  19. #19
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iab View Post



    Your telling me the half second it takes to shift on the downtube versus the tenth of a second on STI makes a difference? Rumor has it Coppi could shift a cambio corsa out of the saddle in a full sprint.
    Having raced bikes with both downtube shifting and STI, it does make a difference. (and bTW my first racebike with DT shifting was Reynolds 531, with Campy Nuevo Record components.)

    The difference are slight, but meaningful. Much much easier to shift in a sprint. Not impossible to do with unindexed DT shifters, but hard enough that you're unlikely to do it, unless you really needed to. ( And you didn't have to be Coppi to bump up a gear sprinting out of the saddle, you just hit the shifter with your knee.)

    Also you can shift out of the saddle under pressure.

    Perhaps the biggest difference is that it's very easy to shift going into tuns, so you're always in the right gear reaccellerating. Just the ease of STI shifting promotes always being in the right gear, which equals being less fatigued at the end of a multi hour race.

    Now, to the previous post, the difference between all the riders being on DT shifting and all the riders being on integrated shifting would not meaningfully affect the dynamics of the race.

    However, a rider on STI against riders with DT shifting, would have a small but not insignifcant advantage. Hence the reason they are in univerrsal use today.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Sorry I don't have the time to find a writeup.

    Perhaps someone else can. Look for stage 17 of the 1969 TDF. Eddy took 6 1/2 minutes out of everyone on a stage very much like those people are complaining about this year. One of those not real mountian stages that they did not have in the old days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    Sorry I don't have the time to find a writeup.

    Perhaps someone else can. Look for stage 17 of the 1969 TDF. Eddy took 6 1/2 minutes out of everyone on a stage very much like those people are complaining about this year. One of those not real mountian stages that they did not have in the old days.
    I think that race radios of today have more to do with screwing up the race than anything. It will be fun the 2 stages this year where they don't allow them.

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    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by julian View Post
    I think that race radios of today have more to do with screwing up the race than anything. It will be fun the 2 stages this year where they don't allow them.
    You know that they had time splits on Merckx back in 1969. They just got them from chalkboards and visits to the team cars, not from earpieces.

    I think riders riding in a much more calculated defensive styles, and not having the cajones and ability of Merckx makes the race less exiting.

    With the exception of Landis' stage 17 ride in 2006, we haven't seen that kind of move by a GC contender since Merckx.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    You know that they had time splits on Merckx back in 1969. They just got them from chalkboards and visits to the team cars, not from earpieces.

    I think riders riding in a much more calculated defensive styles, and not having the cajones and ability of Merckx makes the race less exiting.

    With the exception of Landis' stage 17 ride in 2006, we haven't seen that kind of move by a GC contender since Merckx.
    There was nothing then like the communications of today. Totally different race now. People peak for the Tour instead of racing year round like they did back in the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icelemmings View Post
    Ah, this is so interesting. I would love to have watched them ride. Given where the shift levers were attached, the rider is not able to shift as quickly. I'd like to see how that would have effected the attacks/breakaway chases.
    Very little to none. All of my road bikes have downtube shifters. Less likely to drop a chain with a downtube shifter. When I lose a sprint it isn't because of the location of my shifter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by erader View Post
    go back to the early 90s and watch the indurain/rominger TDF battles. rominger rode mavic so he used downtube shifters....but he also used zap (electric) in the TTs.

    i also recall zenon jaskula, a GC contender, using DT shifters on a TT bike which as i recall was nothing more than a road bike with clip-ons.

    another time i remember indurain was racing a campy-equipped MTB in i think a charity race. he had those huge thumbshifters while the others were using shimano SLR.

    that was in the day when some believed that a shimano-equipped bike would never win the TDF and almost everyone used TIME pedals .

    ed rader
    Several riders until the early/mid 2000's used a DT shifter for the FD.


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