Most helpful positive review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good summary of the highs and lows of the career of the greatest cyclist ever
on 10 April 2012
As a good summary of the life of the man voted in a number of polls as one of the best sportspeople ever, this is quite good. All the highs and lows are there, and there is an analysis of what drove The Cannibal, and what made him different to those who have gone before and come after him. While Armstrong may be held high in the eyes of many, it must be remember Merckx was succesful in Classics as well as the Grand Tours, whereas Lance just concentrated on the Tour.
Friebe allows for competing analysis from a range of sources, those who competed against Merckx, those who rode with him and those who reported on his career. Of course it helps to know the background to each of Merckx's interactions with those who have been interviewed- obviously some come with more an an agenda and desire to protect their legacies than others, and the author does well to reflect these, without negatively impacting on the validity of their input.
One voice that is missing is Merckx himself who did not want to collaborate with the book (apart from a brief conversation detailed in the epilogue).Friebe insists this is actually more beneficial, but there is still a void there that is not filled. While a certain amount of revisionism is to be expected, I do feel that Merckx's absence is most clearly felt as Friebe attempts to deal with the controversies that surround Eddy. This is no hiagoraphy but it would be good to see what how these events are now viewed by the man himself with hindsight-to get this however the reader would need to seek out the other works Merckx did collaborate on.
This is generally well put together, although on a small number of occasions I had to re-read sentences a couple of times to get their meaning-some were open to ambiguity which should have been addressed at the editing stage. Overall though I recommend this as a good summary of Merckx's life though I am looking forward to checking out William Fotherington's Half Man, Half Bike, to see how he deals with Merckx.