Last week the 108th edition of the Tour de France came to an end. An exciting Tour and one of the most memorable moments was the performance of Mark Cavendish. "Cav", who happened to participate in this edition due to an injured teammate, won 4 stages and the green jersey. A great achievement in itself, but what makes it even better is that he has now equalled the stage record of Eddy Merckx! With a shared record of 34 stage victories at the Tour de France, this may well be the last year that Merckx can enjoy his title. That's why we think it's once again about time we take a look at the Tour victories of this cycling legend!
Merckx is skilled on all fronts and this was reflected in his stage victories. From flat stages to mountain climbs, this man could do it all. In addition to road cycling, he also regularly took part in track and field races. At the Tour de France he managed to achieve 34 victories in a period of only 6 years. And this record has been going for almost 50 years! The Cannibal also holds other records at the Tour de France, such as being the only one to win the yellow jersey, polka dot jersey and green jersey in the same year. This was in 1969. And actually, in that year he also won the prix de la combativité and the combination classification. So... an all-round winner, right?
The fact that this cannibal has won the Tour five times is no small achievement! However, he shares this record with Anquetil, Hinault and Miguel Indurian. Other shared titles are winning the yellow jersey and the polka dot jersey twice in one Tour (together with Bartali, Coppi and the young Pogočar) and most stage victories in one Tour (8 victories, shared with Freddy Maertens and Charles Pélissier). But fortunately Merckx also has some other personal, exclusive records such as winning a yellow and green jersey in one Tour three times and receiving the most combination jerseys. The Cannibal can also be found on the list of honour of the largest time difference between first and second across the finish line. So during his first participation in the Tour in 1969 he not only won many classifications, but he also beat his competitor Roger Pingeon by 17 minutes and 54 seconds! In 1971 there was also a big time difference, with almost 10 minutes between him and Zoetemelk.
Not surprisingly, people sometimes no longer found it exciting to see Merckx riding the Tour. And organiser Jacques Goddet also realised this. In 1973 he therefore kindly asked Eddy not to participate in the Tour. That's why Eddy cycled in the Vuelta that year (and of course he won this one as well). However, Goddet could not stop him after that. In 1974 the Cannibal simply joined the race again and with success: He got his 5th victory. He might even have managed a 6th victory, but unfortunately he was hit in the liver by a spectator in 1975. This happened during the mountain ascent of Puy de Dôme. Talk about envy ... The next day Merckx also broke his jaw which meant he could just as well forget the title. Bernard Thévenet won that year and Eddy finished second. Fortunately, he still made it to the podium, which once again shows what a strong rider he was.
The Cannibal enjoying his yet another yellow jersey
Of course we cannot forget to mention that the Cannibal himself does not really mind if his stage record gets "taken away". Merckx himself said: "Records are there to be broken. And I still have many other records'. And that is only too true! Besides these beautiful victories at the Tour de France, he has several shared titles and also his own records with the most victories at Milan-San Remo (7 times!), Liege-Bastogne-Liege (5 times!) and the world time record. Whatever the future may bring, this versatile rider will always be remembered as a true cycling god!
Would you like to ride like a real Cannibal? Then you are in luck! The Faema & Molteni jerseys of Merckx are available in our online shop. Are you, like us, a big fan of cycling? Then feel free to keep an eye on our blog. We regularly post new stories about cycling facts, remarkable events and updates of our product range which are definitely worth reading!