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  1. #1
    Senior Member Hapsmo911's Avatar
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    Will there ever be another "Eddy Merckx"?

    I just dont see anyone able to do what Eddy did over the course of his career. Granted Pro cycling has changed so much since Merckx raced, teams are much stronger now imo. bikes are way better, that sort of thing. I mean never say never right? Someday someone will come along and at least make us think its possible, but damn it would be tough. What it must have been like to follow his career at the time.

    Is it possible? I guess, maybe.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nick Bain's Avatar
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    no

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    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Eddy Merckx was sui generis. No pro is ever gonna dominate as he did. I just can't see it.
    Regards,

    Jed

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    Heretic Caretaker's Avatar
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    No.

    Eddy and Jeannie Longo (52) have left it too late.
    History is the future

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
    No.

    Eddy and Jeannie Longo (52) have left it too late.
    Beryl Burton: 1937 - 1996

    She passed away at the age of 58 on a training ride... she was the most dominant female cyclist of the 20th century and one of the most successful competitive cyclists of all time.

  6. #6
    lead on macduff!
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    hell, i'd settle for another sean kelly...

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    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    No. In this era of specialists (classics riders, grand tour riders, long relievers, middle relievers, pitch count, power forwards, etc) riders don't train like that anymore. And they get paid pretty well. In Eddy's day you rode everything so you and the family could eat.

    BTW, Eddy never used a power meter.

    "Ride lots."
    Last edited by roadwarrior; 07-19-11 at 03:19 AM.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

  8. #8
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Beryl Burton: 1937 - 1996

    She passed away at the age of 58 on a training ride... she was the most dominant female cyclist of the 20th century and one of the most successful competitive cyclists of all time.
    With all due respect, the competition was not exactly the same.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

  9. #9
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    No. In this era of specialists (classics riders, grand tour riders, long relievers, middle relievers, pitch count, power forwards, etc) riders don't train like that anymore. And they get paid pretty well. In Eddy's day you rode everything so you and the family could eat.

    BTW, Eddy never used a power meter.

    "Ride lots."
    The specialization and need to ride to eat are the final nails in the coffin for mathcing Merckx in many areas.

    But only the final nails. I've heard some say what Merckx did is not possible now. It was almost as much not possible then. Years ago I cam up with what it think most clearly illustrates this. Over time there are 9 races that are pretty much the most important races of the year. The 3 Grand Tours, The Worlds and the 5 monuments. 9 big races. It is fairly common for someone to win 2 in any given year. (one year 3 diferent riders won 2 out of 9). Winning 3 or more in one year has only been accomplished about 18 times. Forgettnig Merckx only one rider has won 4 in a year. Fausto Coppi.

    If you asked people if anyone would match Fausto's feat of 4 wins out of 9 in a year in let's say 1965 most knowledgeable poeple would have said that it was possible, good years happen, but a rider would have to be good and lucky.

    For anyone except Merckx they would be right, no other rider has ever repeated 3 or more wins. No other rider has matched Fausto's 4.

    Merckx won 3 or more of these 9 seven years in a row, including winning 4 twice and 5 twice.

    Oh and Merckx has more major Jerseys from the Grand tours than he has starts in Grand Tours. Yup on average he wins just more than a Jersey per start.

    He is the only rider to have won all 3 jerseys in the Giro in a carear, Which he did in just one Giro, his second. In his first start of the TDF he won all 3. Only Hinault has matched that for a carear.

    We may see him matched in some areas, like total Grand Tour wins. But for bredth I do not see anyone coming close.

  10. #10
    Seņor Member kimconyc's Avatar
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    Unless we make huge breakthroughs in genetic modification / doping and only a specific few are able to receive such benefits, no.

    Merckx won 525 races. That's nearly one race a week (more than one per week if you assume he didn't race when it was snowing). If you also throw in the fact that many of these 525 races were Grant Tours, classics, worlds, this number is truly mind-boggling.
    Last edited by kimconyc; 07-19-11 at 01:14 PM.

  11. #11
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    I broadly agree with Keith99. I never saw Coppi, of course, and he seems to have been special. But Merckx was more dominant and I never expect to see another one quite like him.

    Sixty Fiver is right to mention Beryl Burton, though. She was extraordinary. In 1967 she won the UK 12-hour TT, beating the leading man ( who was himself in the process of beating the previous record) by almost a mile. She offered him a sweet as she passed him. Look up her entry on Wikipedia: the numbers are remarkable.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    The specialization and need to ride to eat are the final nails in the coffin for mathcing Merckx in many areas.

    But only the final nails. I've heard some say what Merckx did is not possible now. It was almost as much not possible then. Years ago I cam up with what it think most clearly illustrates this. Over time there are 9 races that are pretty much the most important races of the year. The 3 Grand Tours, The Worlds and the 5 monuments. 9 big races. It is fairly common for someone to win 2 in any given year. (one year 3 diferent riders won 2 out of 9). Winning 3 or more in one year has only been accomplished about 18 times. Forgettnig Merckx only one rider has won 4 in a year. Fausto Coppi.

    If you asked people if anyone would match Fausto's feat of 4 wins out of 9 in a year in let's say 1965 most knowledgeable poeple would have said that it was possible, good years happen, but a rider would have to be good and lucky.

    For anyone except Merckx they would be right, no other rider has ever repeated 3 or more wins. No other rider has matched Fausto's 4.

    Merckx won 3 or more of these 9 seven years in a row, including winning 4 twice and 5 twice.

    Oh and Merckx has more major Jerseys from the Grand tours than he has starts in Grand Tours. Yup on average he wins just more than a Jersey per start.

    He is the only rider to have won all 3 jerseys in the Giro in a carear, Which he did in just one Giro, his second. In his first start of the TDF he won all 3. Only Hinault has matched that for a carear.

    We may see him matched in some areas, like total Grand Tour wins. But for bredth I do not see anyone coming close.
    Yep. And that's not mentioning how he dominated in Grand Tour wins. There were years he won the overall, points, and mountains (or combination in the Vuelta back then) jerseys in one race. He did it for all three GT's.
    Everyone has a right to an opinion. However, this does not mean that one's opinion is right.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rotten Bastard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    BTW, Eddy never used a power meter.

    "Ride lots."
    That has me wondering, would his competitors have been able to close the gap if they'd had the kind of focused, scientific training that athletes have now? Would he still have dominated so much if the others had been able to train smarter? Or was he so good that the hierarchy would have been the same no matter what>

  14. #14
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rotten Bastard View Post
    That has me wondering, would his competitors have been able to close the gap if they'd had the kind of focused, scientific training that athletes have now? Would he still have dominated so much if the others had been able to train smarter? Or was he so good that the hierarchy would have been the same no matter what>
    A huge amount seems to have been determination, the will to win. His injuries in 1969 would have cause many riders to retire. His injuries in the 1975 TDF would have caused jsut about anyone else to quit the race. Instead he continued to attack, even on the final stage. It was not until his last stage attack was pulled back before he conceded the victory. Some think the stress of that race shortened his carear. They may be right, but the part of him that causes him to continue may well have been what made him great.

  15. #15
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    IMO it's important to remember that fairly early in his career he was involved in a horrific accident (which killed the derny driver.) He cracked a vertebrae and twisted his pelvise and rode the rest of his career in pain. He said he was never the same after that crash.

    Imagine what he could have done.
    i may have overreacted

  16. #16
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    I can't conceive of it. If Gilbert were to evolve into a Grand Tour threat, he could become once of the great legends of the sport, but the dominance Merckx exhibited... he often seemed a man riding with boys.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  17. #17
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laggard View Post
    IMO it's important to remember that fairly early in his career he was involved in a horrific accident (which killed the derny driver.) He cracked a vertebrae and twisted his pelvise and rode the rest of his career in pain. He said he was never the same after that crash.

    Imagine what he could have done.
    I was thinking a bit about how things have changed. Riders back then were more used to riding at speed. Derney paced races were common. I think on of the Major classics once was derney paced for about the first half. Kind of like how thing heat up in the final few miles of a stage, but for a lot longer and a bit faster.

    Also 2 significant stages in the TDF history of Merckx involved him decending at speed alone or with only one other rider trying to keep up. That was the 8 minute stage win in 69 and the stage in hte TDF where Ocana was nearly 10 minutes up on Merckx in GC and no one else could stay with them and Ocana eventually crashed out (It was not the initial crash that got him , it was hte next group going down at teh same spot and running into him).

    It seems riders going over the top of a climb and decending alone or in groups of just a few and staying htat way for quite a while was a lot more common in the 60s and perhaps until the 80s. It seems now that much of the time everyone catches back on in a decent.

  18. #18
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    You know your cycling, Keith.

    Now, let's bring back Bordeaux-Paris.
    i may have overreacted

  19. #19
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rotten Bastard View Post
    That has me wondering, would his competitors have been able to close the gap if they'd had the kind of focused, scientific training that athletes have now? Would he still have dominated so much if the others had been able to train smarter? Or was he so good that the hierarchy would have been the same no matter what>
    If they'd been in a position to train smarter, so would he.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  20. #20
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    Ocana was nearly 10 minutes up on Merckx in GC and no one else could stay with them and Ocana eventually crashed out (It was not the initial crash that got him , it was hte next group going down at teh same spot and running into him).
    If I recall correctly, it was actually Merckx who ran into him.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  21. #21
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    The specialization and need to ride to eat are the final nails in the coffin for mathcing Merckx in many areas.

    But only the final nails. I've heard some say what Merckx did is not possible now. It was almost as much not possible then. Years ago I cam up with what it think most clearly illustrates this. Over time there are 9 races that are pretty much the most important races of the year. The 3 Grand Tours, The Worlds and the 5 monuments. 9 big races. It is fairly common for someone to win 2 in any given year. (one year 3 diferent riders won 2 out of 9). Winning 3 or more in one year has only been accomplished about 18 times. Forgettnig Merckx only one rider has won 4 in a year. Fausto Coppi.

    If you asked people if anyone would match Fausto's feat of 4 wins out of 9 in a year in let's say 1965 most knowledgeable poeple would have said that it was possible, good years happen, but a rider would have to be good and lucky.

    For anyone except Merckx they would be right, no other rider has ever repeated 3 or more wins. No other rider has matched Fausto's 4.

    Merckx won 3 or more of these 9 seven years in a row, including winning 4 twice and 5 twice.

    Oh and Merckx has more major Jerseys from the Grand tours than he has starts in Grand Tours. Yup on average he wins just more than a Jersey per start.

    He is the only rider to have won all 3 jerseys in the Giro in a carear, Which he did in just one Giro, his second. In his first start of the TDF he won all 3. Only Hinault has matched that for a carear.

    We may see him matched in some areas, like total Grand Tour wins. But for bredth I do not see anyone coming close.
    And he did all that with five rear gears and no power meter.

    When I lived in Belgium, his home was about three miles away. I saw him out training many times. The good news was that even though people obviously knew who he was, they left him alone.
    "Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart, but considerably more successful."
    Bret Stephens, WSJ

  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    With all due respect, the competition was not exactly the same.
    I feel that if Burton and Merckx were to be racing today they would still be the most dominant riders in the sport... Burton may have been one of the few women who could compete with men on an even level, especially when it came down to riding ultra distance events.

    It may be argued that Coppi was every bit as good as Merckx, his career was cut short by World War 2 but once he was freed (he was a POW) he went right back into racing and won the TdF the next year.

    They say that when Coppi broke away you never saw him again and could measure his wins by the tolling of the church bell... he was perfection on a bike while Merckx was a different kind of rider and earned his nickname of "The Cannibal".

    Who could conceive of a rider leading and pulling the Peleton for 240 km as Merckx did... it was not that they were not trying to catch him but that they simply could not match a rider who was able to average more than 45kmh over a 280km stage.

    Merckx finished 2nd in 1975 and apologized for his poor performance... he did this when he was unable to eat solid food because of a broken cheekbone and after being assaulted by a spectator.

    He put the H and f in HTFU.

    He said that when he set the hour record he could have gone farther had he not been plagued by hip problems... can anyone imagine what would have happened had he spent his career riding at 100% ?

    These riders of old are my inspiration... modern riders would consider their bicycles to be inferior machines but it has nothing to do with the machine and has everything to do with the heart and soul of the rider and their drive to win.

    I have done 40km time trials on very similar bicycles because I wanted to see if it could be done when people said it was impossible to do on a vintage racing bicycle... found that you don't need the carbon fibre, 10 speed blocks, or a power tap.

    You just need to "ride lots".

    Merckx ailed it when he said this and often rode hundreds of kilometres on his own the day before major events as was an all rounder who could dominate anywhere, anytime.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Rotten Bastard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    If they'd been in a position to train smarter, so would he.
    Interesting thing about Mercx is that if you look at his results in retrospect, it looked like he was invincible, but every year he had to fight off a bunch of guys trying to take his crown. Tough living at the top.

  24. #24
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    I agree with most of what has been said but have one more thing to add: you'd have to chuck the radios, too. The constant communication and surveillance favors teams and the peloton over the individual rider.

  25. #25
    Extra Medium Member redtires's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
    hell, i'd settle for another sean kelly...
    +a gazillion.
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