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Édouard Louis Joseph, baron Merckx (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɛrks]; French: [mɛʁk(s)]; born 17 June 1945), better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional road and track bicycle racer who is widely seen as the most successful rider in the history of competitive cycling. His victories include an unequalled eleven Grand Tours (five Tours of France, five Tours of Italy, and a Tour of Spain), all of the five Monuments, three World Championships, the hour record, every major one-day race other than Paris–Tours, and extensive victories on the track.
Born in Meensel-Kiezegem, Brabant, Belgium, he grew up in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre where his parents ran a grocery store. He played several sports, but found his true passion in cycling. Merckx got his first bicycle at the age of three or four and competed in his first race in 1961. His first victory came at Petit-Enghien in October 1961.
After winning eighty races as an amateur racer, he turned professional on 29 April 1965 when he signed with Solo–Superia. His first major victory came in the Milan–San Remo a year later, after switching to Peugeot–BP–Michelin. After the 1967 season, Merckx moved to Faema, and won the Giro d’Italia, his first Grand Tour victory. Four times between 1970 and 1974, Merckx completed a Grand Tour double. His final double also coincided with winning the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships to make him the first rider to accomplish cycling’s Triple Crown. Merckx broke the hour record in October 1972, extending the record by almost 800 meters.
He acquired the nickname “The Cannibal”, suggested by the daughter of a teammate upon being told by her father of how Merckx would not let anyone else win. Merckx achieved 525 victories over his eighteen-year career. He is one of only three riders to have won all five ‘Monuments’ (Milan–San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and the Giro di Lombardia) and the only one to have won them all twice or more. The other two are fellow Belgians Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy. Merckx was successful on the road and also on the track, as well as in the large stage races and one-day races. He is widely thought to be the greatest and most successful rider in the history of cycling. However, Merckx was caught in three separate doping incidents during his career.
Since Merckx’s retirement from the sport on 18 May 1978, he has remained active in the cycling world. He began his own bicycle chain, Eddy Merckx Cycles, in 1980 and its bicycles were used by several professional teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Merckx coached the Belgian national cycling team for eleven years, stopping in 1996. In 2001, he played a large role in getting the Tour of Qatar organized to start in 2002. He co-owns the tour and also the Tour of Oman, both of which he still organizes. He is ranked as the all-time number 1 cyclist according to CyclingRanking