Living Legends

Jul 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
Tour de France 2004

CLICK HERE for Outside’s Guide to the 2004 Tour de France, follow the race July 3-25 with our SPECIAL ONLINE COVERAGE.

Tour de France Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
Age: 59
Tour Wins: 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974
Wore Yellow: 96 days
Nobody devoured more foes than Eddy Merckx. Perhaps the greatest cyclist ever, "the Cannibal"—a six-foot, 165-pound powerhouse—was uniquely lethal in all disciplines, from time trials to mountain stages. In 13 years, Merckx won an astonishing 476 pro races (402 more than Lance Armstrong), taking not just five Tours de France but also five Giros d'Italia and seven Milan–San Remos. Since 1980 he's headed the Belgium-based Eddy Merckx company, which builds racing bikes favored by pros like his 31-year-old son Axel. Why didn't you win six? "My career was about winning as many races as possible—not about winning as many Tours de France as possible." Is that a dig at Lance's near-total focus on the Tour? "Not at all! We're from different cycling generations. I was the best of mine, and he is the best of his." Will Lance win again? "Of course. And it will be sweet revenge. When he fell sick, Cofidis [Armstrong's former team] cut his contract and pushed him out the door. It was scandalous."