Merckx : Half Man Half Bike

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by limerickman, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    "The ingedients of why (he was so great) can be thus be identified. What cannot be explained is how all of these elements combined in one man's body, how the mind happened to exist in that same body, how they came together at a time that was most propitious.
    What can be said that it is unlikely to happen twice. The likes of Merckx will never be seen again. Cycling and sport in general may well be the poorer for it"

    This book by the Guardians William Fotheringham is a fascinating read.
     
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  2. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I agree under normal circumstances we will never see his achievements again. Everyone is a specialist these days. Given slightly different conditions I think he would have added another two wins to his TDF record.
     
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    While specialization does make it unlikely to see "Merckxian" performance over a full race season, I think it's more likely the combination of Merckx' traits that makes him a rare commodity: the confidence to win no matter the type or duration of a race and the ability to exceed--not just survive--in just about any road condition (climb, rollers, flats, cobbles, dirt, gravel, rain, dry......). Armstrong had such confidence in the TdF, but Merckx seemingly had it at every type of race. If we talk only in terms of specialization, then I think that it would be a shame to see a young Merckx racing today because his team and/or coaches would likely force him to specialize. I think the sports guy closest to Merckx in style, drive, and talent was John Surtees, a former motorcycle grand prix world champ and F1 grand prix car racing champ (I'm not comparing physical conditioning but rather the broad talent range that extended over disparate fields of play).
     
  4. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    This biography of Merckx is a must read for cycling fans.

    Fotheringham's interest is in trying to get an explanation as to why Merckx had to win every race that he took part in.
    Merckx literally could not start a race without setting out to win. Whether it was a Tour De France stage race or an evening criterium Merckx rode every race to win.

    Fotheringham has some excellent background information as to Merckx upbringing and how it made him the cyclist and competitor that he became.
    As well as being a phenomenal athlete, Merckx mental strength is what set him apart from every other cyclist who has ever lived.
    Fotheringham suggests that this mental strength is a combination of Merckx upbringing (Belgian, working class), his stoicism (unflappable personality in the face of adverse conditions), hard work (putting in hours and hours of training) and focus (Merckx is/was obsessive about his diet, his training, his preparation).

    In 1975, he raced 195 days/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif and as he says he probably trained 150 days on top of that.
     
  5. steve

    steve Administrator
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    That's one short off season!
     
  6. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I think he said that he had 3 weeks during 1975 when he didn't ride the bike!
     
  7. leanman

    leanman New Member

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    i always like limerickmans posts and agree with them.. this one however, i dont..anybody that takes drugs i forget about their winnings.. drugs effect everyone differently.. maybe eddy got 20% better taking these drugs he took, and the others he competed against got 10% better taking the same ammount of drugs. we just dont know that.. a retired pro who was bustedrecently said the best guys will win weather they take drugs are not.. i totally disagree cause like i just said, and the dr.'s have said, these drugs effect each individual differently.i hate cheaters, thats why my idols are the guys i ride with.. no pros, cause if you look at whos been caught, its the WHOLE PELOTON..
     
  8. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Well that's an exaggeration, the "whole peloton" has not been caught, and there is zero evidence that it's always been the "whole peloton" doping.
     
  9. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Merckx did get nailed a few times for positive dope controls and folks do seem to forget that under the guise of doping being a modern thing - which it isn't.

    For me, the most amazing thing about Merckx isn't what he won - it's the thought of what he could have won if he didn't have that fateful crash in 69 where his motorpacer in the deny, Fernand Wambst, was killed instantly. It left Merckx with a broken vertabra and a twisted pelvis - the root cause (probably) of his constant saddle height adjustment.

    Here's a quote nicked from Wikipedia:

    "The crash in Blois was terrible for me. From that day cycling became suffering. I had stitches in my head and was scraped and bruised all over, but those injuries healed. I was lucky in a way in that I could have been killed, but the problem that crash gave me was the damage it did to my back. What happened was that my hips were knocked out of line with my body. It meant that my legs were also out of line with the rest of my body. After that day I could never sit comfortably on my bike again. I tinkered with my position and changed my frame angles. I would keep many bikes, all subtly different, all ready to race on, but I never found comfort. Before Blois I cannot say that I suffered in a bike race. The Tour de France even. I just pressed on the pedals when I wanted to, that was all I had to do. After the crash it was never the same. The pain changed from day to day, some days I would weep on my bike, on others it was OK. One time, towards the end of my career, it was so bad that I was riding up the Alsemberg hill in Brussels, and I wondered if I was going to get to the top. I thought that I might have to get off and walk, and it isn't a very steep or a very long hill. My back became my weakness. It still affects me today. I cannot jog to keep fit because of my back"
     
  10. leanman

    leanman New Member

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    guy raced 1500 races i think, won 1/3 of them.. amazing... but, without the drugs, maybe he wouldnt have won a one.. nobody knows.. .. how they effect each individual is different..all 500 wins are tainted cause he was on drugs.. he got caught a few times.

    .another great, sean kelly got caught. he had his mechanic pee in a bottle for him cause sean was on drugs. trouble is his mechanic was on drugs too staying up all night prepping the teams bikes..

    another great, freddy martens admited he took drugs for the local kermis races, but raced clean in the big races..WHO IS HE KIDDING??? lol..
    look it up on wikipedia,( cyclists caught taking drugs) the cyclist who got caught or finally admitted using drugs their whole career. jesper skibby said no a million times, but in his book he finally admitted he took all kinds of drugs his whole career..

    wikipedia tellsl you year by year who the cheats are.. all the stars got caught or admitted taking drugs.. and you know the domistiques take them too to set the hard pace for 100's of k's for their leaders..

    they all cheat..
     
  11. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    You don't know any of that. That's just rumor whore mongering. You don't have any facts to support the idea that everyone in the pro peloton dopes. Come back when you have facts that show that everyone in the pro peloton dopes. Of course, that means you'll never be back. Oh well.
     
  12. leanman

    leanman New Member

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  13. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Armstrong has never admitted taking drugs and there are many others that have never been caught or admitted it.
     
  14. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry, Guy with No Reading Comprehension, the Wikipedia article does not indicate that everyone dopes or has doped. Nope. That's your flawed reading telling you that. I won't bother explaining Critical Thought because you won't get it. Again, when you have objective, incontrovertible proof that everyone in the pro peloton has and/or does dope, come back. Until then you've got nothing.
     
  15. leanman

    leanman New Member

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    W!!!

    go out and race your cat 4 races and believe what you want..
     
  16. leanman

    leanman New Member

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    you may beat me in the classroom genius, but i know not on the bike. you make it to the cat 1 level? you stll racing as a cat 2 at 57 .. i doubt it.. go read a book smart guy.. i'll go out and train.. clean.. not like your idols that have all been caught..
     
  17. Cw83

    Cw83 New Member

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    I joined this forum just so I could make this one post to say that exchanges like these above are why I can't bear reading online forums, let alone post to them! And yes, leanman moron with the ego and clear thinking problems, I am aware of the paradox in what I say, but, he'll, you sound like someone in dire need of therapy.
     
  18. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    I don't want this thread to turn in to a debate about doping, folks.
    Otherwise I would have created this thread in the doping section of the forum.

    I posted this thread to discuss and impart what the book says about Merckx.

    If you're interested I've got as far as 1968 in my reading : Merckx having gone professional a couple of years before has started to dominate races.
    In the book the author talks to the powers that be in Belgian cycling 1964-1968 and they all say that because Merckx had a limited amateur career (compared to other Belgian amateurs) he wasn't raced into the ground before turning professional and that this helped Merckx in their opinion.

    They also say that signing for an Italian sponsor was a radical departure for a Belgian professional (Merckx raced for Italian sponsors for the majority of his professional career).

    The book also details how established professional at Peuguot like Tom Simpson were very put out at Merckx being asked to join. Simpson recognised that his big paydays might be coming to an end was envious and felt threatened by Merckx presence.

    Some other interesting facts. Merckx physiological makeup appears to be unique. The University of Cologne in Germany conducted tests on 20 year Merckx and found that his physiology was unique. His heart size was disproportionately large even before he turned professional.
    Cologne also found that Merckx was significantly taller than the average height for a professional cyclist.

    I'll impart more stuff here as I get through the book.
     
  19. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Limerickman.

    Slightly off topic as this may or may not come up in the book (may or may not have any basis in reality either) but I was under the impression Merckx was one of the first riders to run a 12T (vs. a 13) on a Regina freewheel which then suddenly became de rigeur for the rest of the peleton. Was curious if this indeed had any merit and if it gets any mention. Seems like this just would be a minor component change but in the world of racing gearing it was a pretty monumental shift.
     
  20. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Hi Dan,

    I've never heard this but no doubt you're correct.
    The book hasn't mentioned this as yet but if it does I'll be happy to confirm it!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
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