The life and times of the greatest cyclist ever.
Bicycle racing has fallen on hard times. The recent revelations about Lance Armstrong’s long-standing use of performance-enhancing drugs simply provides the seeming coup de grâce for a sport tainted from top to bottom with juicing athletes. Here, veteran cycling journalist Fotheringham (Put Me Back On My Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson, 2007, etc.) provides a welcome reminder that at its best, cycling creates phenomenal athletes with otherworldly endurance, discipline and will. Born in 1945, Eddy Merckx was raised in the suburbs of Brussels. He embraced bicycle racing at a relatively young age. By the time he was in his teens, he revealed clear promise for future stardom; with his parents’ reluctant blessing, he turned professional. Within just a few years, he had climbed to the pinnacle of the sport and had earned the nickname “The Cannibal.” Merckx dominated the sport for a decade, making victory so routine that some fans and journalists came to resent and even hate him, as they believed his overwhelming rate of victory was ruining the sport. Fotheringham is passionate and knowledgeable about his subject, and for fans of the sport, this book will likely stand as the definitive Merckx biography. Newcomers to cycling’s history will learn a great deal but may at times be overwhelmed by the detail and presumed knowledge that the author brings to the narrative.
Eddy Merckx was the greatest of all time in his sport. Fotheringham has placed him in his proper context and reminds us all that world-class athletes are driven by forces that most people can only imagine.