The first ever English-language biography of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time, by William Fotheringham, Britain's top cycling writer.
Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football; quite simply, the best there has ever been. Throughout his professional career Merckx amassed an astonishing 445 victories. Lance Armstrong, by comparison, has managed fewer than 100.
For Britain's leading cycling writer, William Fotheringham, the burning question remains, why? What made Eddy Merckx so invincible?
Merckx was a machine. It wasn't just the number of victories; it was his remorseless domination that created the legend. Once, already comfortably leading the 1969 Tour de France, Merckx hammered a further eight and a half minutes out of his nearest rivals during an 85-mile solo break in the Pyrenees. But his triumphs only tell half a story that includes drug-busts, horrific injury and death. He was nicknamed 'The Cannibal' for his insatiable appetite for victory, but the moniker did scant justice to this handsome, sensitive, and surprisingly anxious man.
In Half Man, Half Bike, Fotheringham goes back to speak to those who were there at the time. The result is the extraordinary and definitive story of a man whose fear of failure would drive him to reach the highest pinnacles before ultimately destroying him.
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WILLIAM FOTHERINGHAM writes for the Guardian and Observer on cycling and rugby. A racing cyclist and launch editor of procycling and Cycle Sport magazines, he has reported on over twenty Tours de France. He is the critically lauded author of Fallen Angel, Roule Britannia, and Put Me Back on My Bike, which Vélo magazine called 'The best cycling biography ever written.From Booklist:
Within the world of professional cycling, no name conjures such complete dedication and domination of the sport than that of Eddy “the Cannibal” Merckx, dubbed for his voracious appetite for winning. Fotheringham expertly traces Merckx’s career from his early races in Belgium to his successes at the Tour de France, painting a nuanced portrait of a man best described by his wife as “driven on by a power that was unique to him.” The power behind this account is Fotheringham’s skill in bringing Merckx’s races alive on the page. Woven throughout is a thoughtful discussion of the impact of Belgium’s ethnic divide between Flemish and French and its affect on Merckx’s career, as well as insightful analysis of how Merckx’s quiet and introverted personality helped to build his mystique. While Fotheringham clearly holds Merckx in high regard, he avoids the sycophantic tone of many sports biographies by placing Merckx within the wider cycling world at the time. This approach gives a rich depth to the book while still paying tribute to a remarkable athelete. --Eve Gaus
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