Lagazzettadellabici's Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by lagazzettadellabici on September 19, 2009

A glance at Eddy’s track racing honors list at the end of 1977 showed some 527 victories. To compile this phenomenal number, the “Cannibal” had begun with the nine “pro” victories of his 1965 season—he had turned professional at the end of April to take part in the Flèche Wallonne—to arrive at that period of complete dominance during which, from 1970 to 1973, his annual average was more than 50 wins. The starting point of this unique career is to be found at the beginning of July 1961. Armed with his beginner’s licence, our champion set off on his first official race. This entry into the profession, however, has left no trace on his honors list; he had, in fact, crossed the finishing line in the lead, but he was disqualified. And with good reason! After having swapped his shoes which were too small—a youthful mistake—for some more comfortable ones, he had come off the track, and, “head down”, without realizing it had taken short cuts which brought him to the finish two minutes before the pack. On 17 July—but certain chroniclers put this historic date as 16 July—despite a fall, he finished sixth at Laeken. Then he joined in two races at meetings which in principle are reserved for those who are not registered; thanks to achieving second and third places he won the general classification. Then, on 1 October, 1961, at his thirteenth official attempt, the little Eddy found a gap and gained the winner’s laurels at last. This’ première’ took place at Petit-Enghien. Merckx was just coming up to sixteen and a half. Before leaving the ranks of the amateurs he added 83 other bouquets to the initial sheaf, not the least colorful being that of the World Championship at Sallanches in 1964. Eddy Merckx did not run in 1978, having been forced into retirement by ill-health.


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