Eddy Merckx’s Birthday – He’s 70

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‘Today is Eddy Merckx’s birthday.  He is 70.  Pretty incredible.  I never raced against Eddy.  He was just a tad before my time.

He is uncomfortable being labeled the best of all time.  He said, “I don’t like it when people say I was the best ever. It’s silly. I am not the best ever. I was the best of my time. You cannot compare generations. There was Fausto Coppi after the war, Anquetil, Hinault, Indurain, Fignon. I never rode for the glory. I rode because I like cycling and winning. But not to say I am the best.”

He might not think it, but he didn’t convince me much with that statement.  He won 5 Tours, 5 Giros, 7 Milan-San Remos, 3 World Road Championships and set an hour record of nearly 50km, on a “regular” track bike.  He won 525 professional races during his career.  Doubt that is going to be repeated anytime soon.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Eddy.  You are the best.

I have one of Eddy's special edition books. 525, one for each of his professional wins.

I have one of Eddy’s special edition books. 525, one for each of his professional wins.


Merckx with Tom Simpson, Jacques Anquetil and Rudi Altig in 1967.

Merckx with Tom Simpson, Jacques Anquetil and Rudi Altig in 1967.

30 thoughts on “Eddy Merckx’s Birthday – He’s 70

  1. Joel

    Steve – I gotta know – what is in those little bottles under your Eddy Merckx book?

  2. Jim

    The way I looked at it is to look at poor Axel Merckx.
    He could have won 4 Tours, 4 Giros, 2 Vueltas, and 2 World Championships and he would still have been second best in the family.
    Damn, that is amazing!

  3. Peter

    Why did I ride my Litespeed to work today when I could have ridden my Eddy Merckx Corsa 01?

    A little advance notice next time please!

  4. donkybhoy

    Merckx was a doper. Merckx was introducing riders to Ferrari. Merckx is part of the problem in cycling. Doper, cheat and a fraud.

  5. Steve Tilford Post author

    Chopper-Continuance. The judge just wanted to drop the whole thing, but the prosecutor wanted me to pay a fine and I told him no, that I didn’t break the law and wouldn’t pay a fine. It is a revenue deal. So, they are sending an inspector out to check out “if” I painted the house and then I have another court date in July. What a waste of the legal system.

  6. Steve Tilford Post author

    donkey-Everyone was a doper, but Merckx was before this oxygen vector drugs, so he was doing it pretty low key, thus suffered like a dog. When Merckx raced, the sport was really blue collar. No hot water in the hotels, no support, ect. He was the man.

  7. Donald J Trump

    Steve, it’s me again, The Don. From one real estate mogul to another, don’t pay the fine. How do you think I became so rich? Not by paying fines. I’m a rich man Steve. America knows that. Vote Don 2016!

  8. The Instigator

    What sets Merckx apart from the more recent legion of cheaters is that he was actually a talented rider from the start. This may not be true of the more contemporary group dopers.

  9. donkybhoy

    They all suffered like dogs. But cheating is a line. If crossed you lose any right to be held up as a great. If it was so low key why did they take the PEDs?

    Those dopers who came before EPO dont get off the hook.

  10. donkybhoy

    Really. Takes talent to get to WT, in general. Merckx might have been the best responder to the PEDs he was taking. Coppi took huge amounts of dope, Bartali used to sneek into Coppi’s room to check what he was using. Merckx had talent and possible the biggest dope program of them all…

    Merckx’s achievements are negated by his doping, IMO.

  11. donkybhoy

    Merckx was sending riders to Ferrari. He actually had to insist to Ferrari that he take on Armstrong.

    Would Merckx have taken EPO? You bet your last dollar he would have. Merckx had no problem embracing Armstrong or anyone who doped.

    Sorry, yes Merckx was talented, but he cheated and that for me destroys everything he did. He was unrepentant about his cheating. He encouraged others to cheat. He enabled others to cheat.

    Merckx is a douchebag.

  12. Robert

    I’ll never understand why Eddy Merckx is deified and all the other cheaters are vilified.

  13. gehry

    A good point has been raised. Some of the younger folks see all substances that may “enhance performance” as doping. Others draw the line at the more serious oxygen-vector drugs like EPO. Kimmage describes the self-injected speed that guys were openly using during criterium season in Europe.

    But where is the line? Are all sins equal under God here? Over-the-counter caffeine pills that were certainly not “allowed” in the 80’s had less caffeine in them than a double espresso at certain modern coffee establishments.

    Myself, I don’t see Alexi Grewal’s shoving caffeine (or phen-phen) pills into plums as being on the same level as having a hematologist plotting EPO doses and frequency. I’d still consider the former as a substance infraction, but not the kind of thing to get him banned. I remember his deal back in ’84. Had he not won his (ahem) “appeal”, he’d have been suspended 30 or 60 days. I can live with that.

    I remember seeing a (now known to have been) EPO-induced guy during races at Prospect Park in New York. The dude routinely rocketed away from our field while we were going full-extreme-gas. He did it often, and he’d stay away till the end. That ain’t happening with pills.

  14. Pepsi Frank

    We are so fortunate that Jim Ochowicz could get Eddy Merckx, Axel Merckx, Lance Armstrong and Michele Ferarri together through the Motorola team. They truly revolutionized doping. Happy birthday Eddy.

  15. Jim

    Vilified ? You mean like Virenque, VandeVelde, Pantani?
    They seem to have gotten off pretty lightly.
    Pantani especially seems to receive the benefit of a lot of revised history.

  16. Jim

    The sad reality, at least to me, is that I have very little faith in performances that are “out of the ordinary”.
    Even with Master’s age riders, I see things that defy belief or logic.
    I understand that someone if going to win every race but when I see someone in the 55+ or 60+ age groups beat everyone else in that (or a lower age group) by 1 minute in a 5 K TT, I have to say “hmmm”.
    Also, when the Masters National were in Kentucky a couple of years ago, the USADA showed up. Suddenly a lot of riders didn’t even start their races and/or disappeared. Odd.

  17. Ron

    At the WT level I look at doping as part of the game. It’s part of the preparation and strategy. It has been there from the start and “it is what it is”. People aren’t “evil” for doing it. Unfortunately that’s just part of playing at that level.

  18. gehry

    I think there is more doping in just the U.S. masters scene than the entirety of the WorldTour scene.

  19. gehry

    Donkyboy, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. And you most certainly don’t know shit about Coppi and Bartali. And as far as Bartali, before you read about his saintly self-sacrifice during WWII, read about the 1937 Tour de France.

    I was fortunate enough to meet Bartali in the mid-80’s. He walked in to our bike shop in the suburbs one day. Simply because he loved cycling and wanted to commune with other like-minded people while on his trip. He noticed the poster we had of him riding next to Coppi, and he spent over an hour telling us about his friend’s exploits. If he had a reputation of scheming against Coppi on Wikipeda, you could have fooled me that day. Gino had nothing bad to say about Fausto (or anyone else). He saw Fausto as his friend. And he never once mentioned his resistance activities during the war.

  20. gehry

    Pantani’s racing style was poetry in motion. And there’s no harm in our having empathy for the dead. Pantani’s tragic story gave us all some perspective on the psychological void that leads to addictions such as his. I remember us hating the sin, not the sinner. And it was his broken-leg situation (where he almost died in surgery) that finally drove it home to all that we had a HUGE problem on our hands with EPO.

  21. Jim

    Poetry in motion and drug fueled.
    It could be as pretty as you want and he was still cheating (as was everyone else).
    Anyone with 1/2 a brain could see it back then and his death didn’t change that.
    People just remember what they want to remember.

  22. mike crum

    like the doctors said…los of times… its not at all an even plying field, even if all of the 198 starters in any pro race take the EXACT same amount of the EXACT dope… becase everyone body is different…. some rides may improve 2% some 4% some 6%.. so a winner shouldnt at all say , well, everyone in this race dopped too, cause maybe the winner was the lucky one improving 6%.. until all racers are off dope, nobody will ever know the true best racer.. and that aint happening antime soon… lol..

  23. David Arnold

    @Donkeybhoy…..ever heard of the phrase you can’t turn a donkey into a race horse??? Same with doping it only works on the talent that is available…..you don’t just do a series of injections and go from finishing in the PRO pack to winning classics and Grand Tours……Doping is in ALL SPORTS…..ALL SPORTS….Football…baseball….Track and Field….Formula 1 racing….PRO soccer etc etc….not condoning it….just saying its a pipe dream to think sports will be done on bread and water.

  24. donkybhoy

    Yep, that’s why Merckx tested positive 3 times in his career. He didn’t need them? so why did he take them? Imagine he tested positive 3 times when anti doping was an even bigger joke than now. He must have been consuming huge amounts. CIRC report said some riders currently are taking 30 tablets a day at GTs.

    You cant profess to be anti doping and laud a doper like Merckx.


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