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  1. #1
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Eddy Merckx: this much I know

    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.

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    What a great champion.

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    Question Authority JoeMan's Avatar
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    195 races in a year? Today's peloton hasn't got a clue!
    2007 REI Safari, 2006 Rocky Mountain Solo 30, Cannondale F1 MTB.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeMan View Post
    195 races in a year? Today's peloton hasn't got a clue!
    In the four seasons 1970-74 inclusive, he raced 521 times and won 207 of them. Remarkable. Racing so hard and so often almost certainly shortened his career, though.
    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.

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    "The closest I have come to death was when I had my crash at the Blois outdoor vélodrome in central France in September 1969. I'd just won the Tour de France and I was racing behind my pacer, who was on a Derny [a custom-built motorbike]. He crashed into another bike and was killed. I hit him at full speed. I flew through the air, landing head first. I had nothing on my head – just sponge and leather. I twisted my hips and injured my back and I was never the same. I was always in pain, and still have treatment on my back every two months."

    It's worth pointing out that he won the Tour de France 4 more times after this. Along with just about everything else under the sun.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    It is worth pointing out that in 1975 he finished second, not third as the article mentions AND that he attacked on the final stage.

    His results under the circumstances in 1975 would be the claim to fame of all but a very select Group.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
    "The closest I have come to death was when I had my crash at the Blois outdoor vélodrome in central France in September 1969. I'd just won the Tour de France and I was racing behind my pacer, who was on a Derny [a custom-built motorbike]. He crashed into another bike and was killed. I hit him at full speed. I flew through the air, landing head first. I had nothing on my head – just sponge and leather. I twisted my hips and injured my back and I was never the same. I was always in pain, and still have treatment on my back every two months."

    It's worth pointing out that he won the Tour de France 4 more times after this. Along with just about everything else under the sun.
    Paris-Tours. Vuelta KOM.

    Just listing all the prizes under the sun that are worth winning that Merckx did not win that I am aware of.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  8. #8
    Lance Hater Laggard's Avatar
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    But that was a different era blah blah f'ing blah...
    i may have overreacted

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    By far the best bicycle racer ever. He would win multiple grand tours in one year (eg Tour and the Vuelta or Tour and Giro) Despite competing in many fewer TDF races than Armstrong, he has 93 yellow jerseys compared to LA's 83. He would repeatedly wear the yellow, green and king of the mountains jerseys in a single stage. But most impressive was the Hour Record that he held for 28 years until he was beaten by Boardman by a mere 10 meters.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
    1990s Raleigh M20 MTB--2007 Windsor Hour (track)
    1988 Ducati 750 F1

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    By far the best bicycle racer ever. He would win multiple grand tours in one year (eg Tour and the Vuelta or Tour and Giro) Despite competing in many fewer TDF races than Armstrong, he has 93 yellow jerseys compared to LA's 83. He would repeatedly wear the yellow, green and king of the mountains jerseys in a single stage. But most impressive was the Hour Record that he held for 28 years until he was beaten by Boardman by a mere 10 meters.
    And his pacing for it was horrible, if just the Hour as considered. He intended to set records for 10K, 20K and the hour. He did. Think of that, it is like setting records for the 440, half mile and mile in one run.

    He had originally considered trying for the 5k also. realizing he was human he decided that was too much even for him.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  11. #11
    Too slow
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    Pre-doping ban era. I wonder what miracle substances he used to produce such miracle results?

  12. #12
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44.5mph View Post
    Pre-doping ban era. I wonder what miracle substances he used to produce such miracle results?
    Actually, not pre-doping ban. Tommy Simpson died two years before Merckx's first GT, and that precipitated a flurry of anti-doping regulations. Merckx tested positive three times, once in peculiar circumstances in the Giro (it looked like a set-up) and a couple of other times for pretty innocuous stuff like norephedrine.

    Miracle substances were in short supply in those days. Amphetamine abuse was very widespread. Alcohol was still widely used to dull the sensations. It seems probable that Merckx used amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances some of the time, as did most of the pro peloton from WW2 well into the 1980s and beyond.

    There doesn't, however, seem to be any evidence that Merckx was more "prepared" than his rivals. There's plenty of evidence that he trained harder - he was notorious for his huge training volume even in an era in which huge training volumes were commonplace.
    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.

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Merckx was one of cleanest riders of his era and as said, the substances that got him busted were pretty innocuous and the French testing was highly suspect. Merckx said that if he knew his team doctor was giving him banned substances he would have declined because he did not feel that he needed any extra help to win.

    Prior to races he would vanish to go on 200 km warm up rides and then show up to crush his competitors... he worked harder and smarter than anyone and think 1975 was his greatest year even though he did not win. The level of toughness is unmatched... most other cyclists would have withdrawn but he still finished second when he was taking his meals through a straw and then apologized for not doing his best and letting his team down.

    He took a year off from the TdF because of death threats when he was at his peak and looking to win his fifth TdF, if it had not been for this and the hardship he faced in 1975 he could have very easily won seven tours and not five.

    The same could be said for Coppi who's career was interrupted by World War 2... after the war ended he came back to racing the tour with very little preparation or training and destroyed the field.

    Coppi was very upfront about his use of drugs as everyone was doing it and he was pretty clear that without these he would not have been able to succeed as he did despite being one of the most gifted cyclists of the 20th century.

    The most famous saying about Coppi is that his lead on his competition was such that you used to tolling of the church bell instead of a stopwatch and when he pulled away, you never saw him again.

  14. #14
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Great article and clearly Merckx was a fabulous pro cyclist. It is very difficult to prove that one did not do something such as use performance enhancing drugs. Over the years, pro athletes and Olympians have shown to be perfect liars...not saying that Merckx is one. If he failed a test, no matter how material the drug was, he failed. And some banned substances are masking agents.

    Pro cycling has evolved and is now dominated by teams with specialists. Modern pro cyclists talk about the team and how they contribute to the team and winners congratulate the other members of the team who sacrificed themselves for the GC or sprinter. Racers are told what to do and what races and appearances they must attend by management to meet sponsor obligations.

    I think Merckx had it right. He was the best of his time.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Back in the day professional and even amateur cycling was basically go to the races again and again, the guys trained little compared with present times that they disappear like for 5 months, thats why you had road riders that spent time doing track and 6 days races during the winter, then in the summer race or little tours one after another. With that kind of activity the training you need is just maintenance.

    AS technically speaking use the same method than EM, the only problem is nobody told him that he needs to race like 100 races per year hehehe

  16. #16
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    Paris-Tours. Vuelta KOM.

    Just listing all the prizes under the sun that are worth winning that Merckx did not win that I am aware of.
    And the Milk Race!
    http://diabloscott.blogspot.com/

  17. #17
    Senior Member 12mphflatout's Avatar
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    What a great piece. This is part of what makes me want to keep cycling.

  18. #18
    my nice bike is at home kraftwerk's Avatar
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    Theres a nice scene in the very beautiful "Stars and Water Carriers" where a lesser rider rolls up to Merckx and says "Hey, why don't you let us win once in awhile?" or something like that. All in good fun.. durring a race I believe.

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    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Eddie has Chuck Norris wash his bicycles; that's how badass he was.

    Can you imagine Wiggins or Contador being paid NOT to appear in the TDF?

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