“Our era was special because all the great riders rode all the big races and competed against each other. It’s a pity that doesn’t happy very much today. For great races, you need great riders.” The Cannibal 16 March 2012
Last week at a meeting with the press in Milano, the first ever inductee into the Giro d’Italia hall of fame was announced – Eddy Merckx – The Cannibal. RCS Sport organised a special ceremony to honour the Cannibal’s achievements at the Giro and presented him with a trophy to mark the occasion. Merckx won the race on five occasions as well as spending seventy eight days in pink, more than any other rider. The trophy was presented to honour Merckx’s final win in 1974. Along the way Merckx claimed 25 stage wins at the Giro, and in 1973 he lead the tour from beginning to end. His five wins came in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1974.
RCS Sport announced that, “The Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame is the first of its kind in international cycling and recognises the true greats of cycling and the riders who have made Giro d’Italia history.”
Attendees at the ceremony included Mario Molteni, the son of Merckx’s former sponsor. Former directeur sportif and mechanics – Ernesto Colnago Ugo De Rosa, Gianni Motta, Alfredo Martini, Fiorenzo Magni, Italo Zilioli, Giorgio Albani, Davide Boifava.
Merckx expressed his appreciation, “Being the first person in the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame is a great honour for me. I consider Italy my second home. I’m loved as much in Italy as I am in Belgium. I have a lot of fans here and that’s very special for me.”
“Italian cycling gave me a lot. My first big wins were in Italy. Then I joined an Italian team and learnt a lot. Fiorenzo Magni became a good friend. He took me to criteriums and then introduced me to Colnago, who became my mechanic and built my bike for the hour record. After that Ugo De Rosa taught me how to make bikes and helped me create my own bike company.”
“Our era was special because all the great riders rode all the big races and competed against each other. It’s a pity that doesn’t happy very much today. For great races, you need great riders.”
Apart from the Giro d’Italia Merckx’s win tally was monumental. He won the Milan Sanremo aged just twenty, notching up nineteen victories overall in the five Monuments. Add to this tally five wins at the Tour de France and one at the Vuelta a Espana. In 1974 Merckx achieved the three major wins termed now as the Triple Crown – Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the World Championship Road Race. Only paralleled by Stephen Roche in 1987.
Film – the 1974 Giro d’Italia considered by many to be the greatest film on cycle racing ever made 1 hour 14 minutes “… and Merckx seems to come down like a lion …”
Images from Milano – Eddy Merckx presentation courtesy of RCS MediaGroup S.p.A. Foto Daniele Badolato RCS SPORT