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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 July 2012
Eddy Merckx. For people like me, whose knowledge or interest in road racing commences after the 70s, that name was something of a faceless, ubiquitous imprint all over the record books. Go to Wikipedia and look up the winners of Grand Tours and classics between 1968 and 1976; you will see 'Eddy Merckx' everywhere. Having got long accustomed to seeing and hearing the name without much actual appreciation of the owner, I thought it was time to find out more about the legendary cyclist.

William Fotheringham has put this biography together in a brilliant fashion. He gives some wonderful passage to Merckx's rise, and focusses on many rivals and team-mates/domestiques who were present during the great man's career. Fotheringham also does a brilliant job of putting Merckx's achievements into true perspective - particularly his one-hour record, and the fact that unlike today, there was no dedication to a single tour - Merckx, `The Cannibal', rode to win anywhere he could. When someone truly dominates their sport, such as Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Eddie Merckx, their resulting achievements can sometimes lose a bit of impact purely because there are so many statistics and high numbers to take in. Happily, the author manages to give weight and appropriate significance to many of Merckx's victories, and builds a picture of an unstoppable athlete, well ahead of his peers both physically and mentally during his dominant years - at a time when those self-same peers were often legends in their own right.

Now because I have no memories or recollections of Merckx during his career (because I wasn't around at the time), this book is the only personal insight into the man and his records that I have encountered - I therefore read this biography without prejudice. But I do think Fotheringham occasionally veers ever so slightly away from impartiality. As an example, Merckx's positive drug tests are covered; with his first, dubious result in 1969 given analysis, albeit with the impression that Merckx was more likely innocent than guilty. However, Merckx's second positive result is glossed over and his third - the one Merckx himself admits to - is not even mentioned. I would also have preferred Fotheringham to expand a bit more on Merckx's post-race years - the book does end fairly quickly after reaching his competitive retirement.

That said, these gripes are minor - this book is worthy of at least 4½ out of 5 stars - and is a thoroughly entertaining delve into the career of the definitive road legend. Merkxissimo!
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2017
Great read, The author has a very engaging style of writing. So even if you are not huge cycing fan but just interested biographies or to learn a little more about this most intriguing of cyclists you will enjoy tis book.
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on 4 June 2017
Great book about a great sportsman
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on 26 April 2012
I finished Friebe's The Cannibal immediately prior to reading Fotheringham so naturally my instinct is to compare the 2- generally both books come to more or less the same conclusions regards Merckx, what drove him etc. Fotheringham does have the advantage of actually having interviewed Merckx himself although this turns out to have been in 1997.
As a summary of Merckx's career, this is well structured and draws on a wide range of interviews from those who worked with or against The Cannibal. There is plenty here to amaze and educate those not lucky enough to see the man when he qctually competed and it shows why it is not simple hyperbole to describe Merckx as the greatest cyclist ever. To be honest if I had to choose between Friebe and Fotheringham I would find it difficult-they complement each other well in that they go into different levels of detail on different epsiodes so something Fotheringham mentions in passing is dealt with more expensively by Friebe and vice versa. So neither is fully definitive on its own but still stand as useful and illuminating
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on 15 August 2013
You will love if you are interested in cycling
If not you will still be fascinated by the man and his achievements
Top read
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on 20 April 2017
Great read some interesting facts about the 'Animal'
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on 31 March 2017
Great book - fascinating
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on 17 May 2012
Another great cycling book from Fotheringham. He seems to have a real knack for bringing cyclists from the past to life and putting some of the excitment of the cares from years back into his texts. I found it a real page turner and read it in less than a week. I really needed to find out the next stage of the story, how the race was won, etc. It certainly made me seek out some of the film and video footage from the races covered. I found the text from Fotheringham much more exciting than any of the film though, which whilst says something about 1970s cycle filming techniques its more a reflection on the writing abilities of the author.

There is one problem with this book that, how big a problem I'm not really sure and unless one reads French or Flemish, then its unlikely to be possible to tell. The problem is that the book doesn't really have much in the way of interviews with Merckx himself. Sure there are some quotes, stories and such from old interviews between him and the author and of course there is lots of historical sources and interviews with contempories but there did seem to be a noticeable omission of direct interviews with the main man himself. Not sure why that might be, I can only infer that he actively did not want to be involved, which is a shame, as I am sure it would have added something.

Its still an excellent book though and considering the lack of alternative English language books on Merckx, then its required reading. Highly recommended.
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on 30 April 2012
Cycling fans enjoy; as I enjoyed reading this extreremely detailed account, but then I'm a cycling roadracing fanatic and the 'cannibal' has long been one of my heroes. William Fotheringham is clearly a Merckx worshiper also - His rendition of the life of a truly great sportsman who appears to have beaten everyone and won everything is clinical, precise and accurate. He describes the cycling achievements of the man no one could beat and his domination of his era with knowledge and enthusiasm. If the story has a fault it might rest with Merckx's constant winning ability and his total dominance of the peleton; so much so that everyone else appeared, at times, to just give up and let the 'master' ride to the inevitable victory. Of course things went wrong for Eddie in later years, when he finally lost some of his edge - but that's all in the story and that's life!

Read it if you love cyle racing and the 'BIG' TOURS ..........
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on 23 July 2012
A very informative book which gives a great insight into the peloton of 1960's professional cycling. Enjoyed it thoroughly.This is a well written and very interesting book. It is amazing to see how the cycling has changed a lot but not changed at all. The tactics are virtually still the same but the technology has changed. It is also interesting to see how the Tour de France was not the only cycling race that mattered back then and cyclists did not focus all their energy on just one cycle race.
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