THE HARD MAN.
An eleven-time Grand Tour winner, Eddy Merckx was the undisputed king of his generation. Many consider him the greatest ever. But his career would not have been complete without his career-defining victory at the Tour of Flanders.
It was 1969, the Summer of Love was upon on us. Flower Power children were opposing the Vietnam War. Concorde took to the skies for the first time over France and Belgian Eddy Merckx was dominating the roads.
After three years as a professional, Merckx's resume was already the envy of his bitter rivals. Not long after turning pro with Peugeot in 1966 he had won Milan–San Remo and then retook La Classicissima the following year. In 1968 he claimed the first of his five Giro d'Italia to add to his victory at Paris-Roubaix (the first of three). There were few holes to be filled on his Palmares.
One of those holes was his home Classic – the Tour of Flanders. To win the Ronde van Vlaanderen is to become a Flandrien – a hard man.