Eddy Merckx revealed that he has battled cancer in an interview with the Sud Presse on Saturday. The Belgian retired pro cyclist said he began fighting the disease several years ago, though he is doing well now. He provide no details regarding his illness.
"Since my intestinal cancer, I just have to be careful what I drink or eat," said Merckx to Sud Presse. "No more champagne and white wine."
"Everything is going well. I get regular check-ups."
In the early 2000s, Merckx had appeared to become noticeably thinner. At the time, Belgian media speculated about whether he was ill or undergoing a voluntary weight loss program.
Merckx, who retired in 1978, won five Tours de France, five Giros d'Italia and one Vuelta a España. He also has three World Championship titles and several dozen victories in Classics such as the Milan-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and other races. He set the hour world record in 1972 after completing 49.431 km. The record was not broken by another rider on a a "traditional" bike for 28 years.
Merckx has run his own bicycle manufacturing company and is currently in Doha for the Tour of Qatar, which he helps organize along with Amaury Sport Organization.
Merckx is one of several high-profile cyclists who have battled cancer. Recently, another cycling legend, Frenchman Laurent Fignon, has been fighting intestinal cancer. Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong overcame testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs, early in his career.