Stage 8: Trilogy, Eddy Merckx, 1971

The trouble with Merckx is that there are so many deeds to choose from. The pick for many is 1969 and his Tour de France début, specifically the stage that tackled the “Circle of Death” in the Pyrenees—Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Col d’Aubisque. Merckx attacked over the top of the Tourmalet, then rode alone for 140 km—about 87 miles—to win in Mourenx. That performance prompted the Tour director, Jacques Goddet, to coin a new word, Merckxissimo.

Eddy Merckx and The Last Race of the Cannibal

Eddy Merckx in tears from the book Merckx 525

The photo on page 215 of Merckx 525 is among the most telling in this amazing tome. The setting is the 1977 Tour de France, a race the great Eddy Merckx did not win. Not even close.

The Conquests of Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil from the book Merckx 525

“Cannibal” is not a nickname that conjures images of grace and respect. Yet when the young Eddy Merckx began to discover his greatness, he did so with dignity.