Belgium. Famous for chocolate, waffles, waffles with chocolate on top and… not much else really. Cycling perhaps isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when most people think of Belgium, but perhaps it should be. Belgium, after all, produced the greatest cyclist of all time.
Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx, Eddy to his mates, was born in June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem (we’ve never heard of it either, it’s sort of near Brussels). After acquiring his first bike at the age of eight, Merckx subsequently showed that he was destined for greatness by beating all comers in local amateur races. His phenomenal will to win, no doubt fuelled by a healthy diet of chocolate waffles, was clearly apparent even in these early races.
At the age of 19, while most of his friends were still battling with acne and the mystery of the opposite sex, Merckx announced himself on a global stage by winning the world amateur title in France. Eddy turned professional just a year later in 1965 and won his first Milan-San Remo after a typically frantic sprint finish. He would go on to win the tough one-day classic an unprecedented seven times throughout his career.