Eddy Merckx: A cycling career in pictures
Cycling's biggest name, Eddy Merckx, turned 70 on Wednesday. DW looks back at the career of the Belgian cyclist who won basically everything there was to win on two wheels.
From beginner to world champion
Growing up as the son of a grocer, Merckx first tried other sports before turning to cycling. At the age of 16 he took part in his first race - three years later he won the Amateur Road Cycling World Championships. In 1971 he won the second title with the pros.
Merckx fights back
At the 1969 Giro d’Italia, Merckx was pulled out of the race under suspicion of doping. The year after, he dominated the Tour de France winning in Paris 18 minutes ahead of his closest rival. His eight stages equalled the record set in 1930 by Charles Pélissier.
A perfect 1972
In 1972 the Belgian once again managed to grab the double, winning the Giro and Tour de France with "Molteni." In October, he also attempted the hour record, riding over 49 kilometers in 60 minutes in Mexico City. The record ended up standing for 28 years.
Nickname: The Cannibal
His insatiable desire to win is what earned Merckx the nickname "The Cannibal." He was one of the few riders to win all three big European races. He won the Tour de France and Giro five times each, plus the Vuelta once in 1973.
The allrounder wins it all
Merckx's desire for victory wasn't restricted to the tour. He won six-day races on the track and enjoyed success in the one-day classics. His favorite race was the San Remo in Milan, where he clocked the fastest time on seven separate occasions. On the cobblestones of Paris Roubaix, the Belgian won three times.
Cycling hero and convicted doper
As with every cycling great, doping comes into the discussion. In 1969, he was banned from the Giro due to fixing allegations that have yet to be explained. "I am convinced I was victim of a conspiracy," Merckx said later. In 1973 and 1977 (photo from Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich) he tested positive again, before ending his career in 1978.
Tribute for the legend
On his 65th birthday, the Belgian Post honored him with a stamp. A decade ago, Belgium's royal family gave him a title and since 2003, an underground stop in Anderlecht has been named after him. Despite the doping cloud around his name, Merckx is still seen by many in cycling circles as the greatest of all time.
Busy in retirement
After ending his career, Merckx opened a racing bike company. In 2008, he sold the successful business and has since been taking things easier. In 2013, Belgium's sportsman of the century had a pacemaker fitted. Here, he is pictured at a Ladies Tour event in Qatar earlier this year.