Gallery: Eddy Merckx turns 70

Today marks the 70th birthday of the world's best ever cyclist, Eddy Merckx. Known as the "The Cannibal" for his insatiable hunger for victories, Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx was born in Meensel-Kiezegem, Brabant on June 17, 1945. A successful amateur cyclist with 80 wins to his name, including the rainbow jersey in 1964, Merckx turned professional in April 1965 with the Solo-Superia team and quickly set about winning all in front of him.

Merckx was the second rider to win the Tour de France on five occasions, third rider to win the Giro d'Italia on five occasions and third rider to win the rainbow jersey on thee occasions. He was the first rider to win the Triple Crown - Tour, Giro and Worlds in one season - in 1974. Merckx also finished his career with 19 monuments to his name. Roger De Vlaeminck is the only other cyclist to have reached the double figures, winning 11 in his career.

In 2013, Merckx told The Guardian he is uneasy with the title of the 'best'.

"I don't like it when people say I was the best ever. It's silly. I am not the best ever. I was the best of my time. You cannot compare generations. There was Fausto Coppi after the war, Anquetil, Hinault, Indurain, Fignon. I never rode for the glory. I rode because I like cycling and winning. But not to say I am the best," he said.

The 1966 Milan–San Remo was the first big win of Merckx's career, he would go onto to win the race on six more occasions, and was one of 20 victories during his first season in the professional ranks. 

Merckx made his grand tour debut at the 1967 Giro d'Italia as he finished in ninth place overall, his worst ever result in a three week race. He finished that season as the world champion.

Between 1968 and 1974, Merckx was simply unbeatable as he won all 11 grand tour's that he finished. The one exception was the 1969 Giro with Merckx disqualified from the race for failing a doping test.

When Merckx retired, he had a total of 525 wins to his name while in his professional career, he won 445 of the 1585 races he started.

Have a look though our gallery of Merckx's career above and click here for a gallery of the limited edition EDDY70 Eddy Merckx bikes.

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