Eddy Merckx, Out of the Saddle

The greatness of Eddy Merckx is well established. The Belgian strongman won the Tour de France five times. Same goes for the Giro d’Italia and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Name a bike race and Merckx almost certainly won it at least once, probably more. He is the greatest cyclist of all time. No argument.

Thus the simple yet telling title of the first biography fully authorized by the man himself: Merck 525, as in a never-to-be-equaled 525 career wins. But like Merckx himself, the greatness of this coffee table-sized tome is not simply to recount athletic achievement. Wikipedia does a fine job of that. Instead Merckx 525 provides a unique pictorial window into all facets of his triumphant life.

Among the book’s best material are the lifestyle shots both before and after Merckx found fame. Indeed, the very first image is a simple photo of Merckx as a young boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old.

There he stands on the raised pedestal of a rooftop somewhere in his hometown of Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. At the time, it was probably nothing more than a child captured in play. Yet there is deep irony in this first “podium pose.” Despite the nearby ledge, Merckx stands tall and confident, like he belonged there.

Further into Merckx 525, you’re invited into the receiving line at his marriage sweetheart Claudine.

Merckx greets well wishers with his handsome, confident smile. A white-gloved usher directs traffic. Bicycle wheels are lifted into the air, replacing the traditional tossing of rice.

A page earlier there’s that wry smile again, as Merckx, blessed with secret-agent good looks and the clothes to match, strides into the airport, a beaming Claudine by his side.

These are just some among many images that transport us back to a time when Merckx ruled — on and off the bike.

Merckx 525 book cover image M525_96dpi_500pw_photoMerckx 525 celebrates the unmatchable career of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist ever and the most dominant athlete of the 20th century. Merckx 525 is the first book authorized by Eddy Merckx and the only book he says offers a truly complete record of his bike-racing career. In its pages, you’ll find photographs never published outside France, Italy, and Belgium.

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