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Gallery: Eddy Merckx turns 70

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Eddy Merckx celebrates his fifth and final Tour de France victory in 1974

Eddy Merckx celebrates his fifth and final Tour de France victory in 1974
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Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx at the 2014 Tour de France

Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx at the 2014 Tour de France (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Eddy Merckx leads Roger De Vlaeminck at the 1973 Paris-Roubaix with Merckx wining the race for a third time

Eddy Merckx leads Roger De Vlaeminck at the 1973 Paris-Roubaix with Merckx wining the race for a third time
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A familiar sight of Eddy Merckx wearing the maillot jaune

A familiar sight of Eddy Merckx wearing the maillot jaune
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Eddy Merckx in 1976

Eddy Merckx in 1976
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Eddy Merckx winning Gent-Wevelgem

Eddy Merckx winning Gent-Wevelgem
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Eddy Merckx on the Col d'Aubisque during the 1969 Tour de France

Eddy Merckx on the Col d'Aubisque during the 1969 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx at the start of the 1967 Giro d'Italia

Eddy Merckx at the start of the 1967 Giro d'Italia
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Eddy Merckx at the 1971 Tour de France while with the Molteni team

Eddy Merckx at the 1971 Tour de France while with the Molteni team
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Eddy Merckx gets some help to pull on the first yellow jersey of the 1971 Tour de France in Mulhouse. He won the race for a third time that year

Eddy Merckx gets some help to pull on the first yellow jersey of the 1971 Tour de France in Mulhouse. He won the race for a third time that year
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Eddy Merckx at the 1977 Tour de France. The last of his career

Eddy Merckx at the 1977 Tour de France. The last of his career
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Eddy Merckx time trialling to stage 5 victory at the 1972 Tour

Eddy Merckx time trialling to stage 5 victory at the 1972 Tour
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Eddy Merckx ready to rumble before an alpine stage of the 1972 Tour

Eddy Merckx ready to rumble before an alpine stage of the 1972 Tour
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Cyrille Guimard shakes the hand of Eddy Merckx after the Belgian won the 1972 Tour

Cyrille Guimard shakes the hand of Eddy Merckx after the Belgian won the 1972 Tour
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Eddy Merckx at the 1970 Tour

Eddy Merckx at the 1970 Tour
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Eddy Merckx during a relaxed moment of the 1969 Tour de France. The first year he won the race overall

Eddy Merckx during a relaxed moment of the 1969 Tour de France. The first year he won the race overall
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Eddy Merckx shakes the hand of overall winner Roger Pingeon at the 1967 Tour

Eddy Merckx shakes the hand of overall winner Roger Pingeon at the 1967 Tour
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Eddy Merckx during the 1969 Tour de France

Eddy Merckx during the 1969 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx celebrates another Tour stage win. This one in 1974 on stage 10

Eddy Merckx celebrates another Tour stage win. This one in 1974 on stage 10
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Eddy Merckx on the top step of the podium at the 1974 Tour de France

Eddy Merckx on the top step of the podium at the 1974 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx with Cyrille Guimard on the podium at the end of the 1972 Tour

Eddy Merckx with Cyrille Guimard on the podium at the end of the 1972 Tour
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Eddy Merckx checks the photo finish of stage 15 at the 1972 Tour de France which was awarded to Cyrille Guimard

Eddy Merckx checks the photo finish of stage 15 at the 1972 Tour de France which was awarded to Cyrille Guimard
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Eddy Merckx does a victory lap at the end of the 1971 Tour de France with Raymond Poulidor on his left and Vicente López Carril on his right

Eddy Merckx does a victory lap at the end of the 1971 Tour de France with Raymond Poulidor on his left and Vicente López Carril on his right
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Eddy Merckx leading Luis Ocano during the fateful 14th stage of the 1971 Tour de France when Ocano crashed out of the race

Eddy Merckx leading Luis Ocano during the fateful 14th stage of the 1971 Tour de France when Ocano crashed out of the race
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Felice Gimondi, Bernard Thévenet, Lucien Van Impe, Joop Zoetelmelk ad Eddy Merckx at the 1975 Tour de France

Felice Gimondi, Bernard Thévenet, Lucien Van Impe, Joop Zoetelmelk ad Eddy Merckx at the 1975 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi climbing in the 1974 Giro d'Italia

Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi climbing in the 1974 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Eddy Merckx changes gear while climbing in the maglia rosa at the 1970 Giro d'Italia

Eddy Merckx changes gear while climbing in the maglia rosa at the 1970 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Eddy Merckx meets Paul IV at the 1974 Giro d'Italia in Rome

Eddy Merckx meets Paul IV at the 1974 Giro d'Italia in Rome
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Eddy Merckx leading Bernard Thévenet on the road to Pra Loup on stage 15 of the 1975 Tour de France. It would be the 96th and final day that Merckx wore the leader's yellow jersey at the race

Eddy Merckx leading Bernard Thévenet on the road to Pra Loup on stage 15 of the 1975 Tour de France. It would be the 96th and final day that Merckx wore the leader's yellow jersey at the race
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Eddy Merckx riding alongside Raymond Poulidor at the 1974 Tour which was won by Merckx

Eddy Merckx riding alongside Raymond Poulidor at the 1974 Tour which was won by Merckx
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Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi at the 1970 Tour de France

Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi at the 1970 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx in yellow on a velodrome in 1970

Eddy Merckx in yellow on a velodrome in 1970
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Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx pose for a photo in 1970

Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx pose for a photo in 1970
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Eddy Merckx on his way to winning the final ever stage on the Vélodrome de Vincennes as he wrapped up his fifth Tour victory in 1974

Eddy Merckx on his way to winning the final ever stage on the Vélodrome de Vincennes as he wrapped up his fifth Tour victory in 1974
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Eddy Merckx in hot demand from reporters ahead of the final stage of the 1974 Tour

Eddy Merckx in hot demand from reporters ahead of the final stage of the 1974 Tour
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Eddy Merckx on his victory lap after the 1974 Tour de France

Eddy Merckx on his victory lap after the 1974 Tour de France
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Eddy Merckx after finishing stage 14 of the Tour de France in 1974. Merckx was punched in the liver by a spectator in the final 150 metres of the stage

Eddy Merckx after finishing stage 14 of the Tour de France in 1974. Merckx was punched in the liver by a spectator in the final 150 metres of the stage
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Eddy Merckx after winning the 1971 world championships. His second rainbow jersey in four years

Eddy Merckx after winning the 1971 world championships. His second rainbow jersey in four years
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Eddy Merckx celebrates his second Tour de France win in 1970

Eddy Merckx celebrates his second Tour de France win in 1970
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Eddy Merckx in the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey on the Stelvio in 1972

Eddy Merckx in the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey on the Stelvio in 1972 (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Eddy Merckx with son Axel at the 2015 Tour of California

Eddy Merckx with son Axel at the 2015 Tour of California (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Eddy Merckx in the iconic Molteni kit at the 1971 Tour de France which he would go on to win

Eddy Merckx in the iconic Molteni kit at the 1971 Tour de France which he would go on to win
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Bernard Thévenet dethroned Eddy Merckx on Pra Loup in 1975 as this arch symbolises

Bernard Thévenet dethroned Eddy Merckx on Pra Loup in 1975 as this arch symbolises (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgian Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour de France, raises his arm thinking he has beaten Frenchman Cyrille Guimard (L) to the finish line of the 15th stage between Aix-les-Bains and Mont Revard. The jury decided otherwise and awarded the victory to Guimard, Belgian Lucien Van Impe (R) finishing third.

Belgian Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour de France, raises his arm thinking he has beaten Frenchman Cyrille Guimard (L) to the finish line of the 15th stage between Aix-les-Bains and Mont Revard. The jury decided otherwise and awarded the victory to Guimard, Belgian Lucien Van Impe (R) finishing third. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Eddy Merckx was synonymous with the Molteni squad.

Eddy Merckx was synonymous with the Molteni squad. (Image credit: AFP)
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Eddie Merckx leading as the riders arrive in Meerbeke during the 1973 Tour of Flanders.

Eddie Merckx leading as the riders arrive in Meerbeke during the 1973 Tour of Flanders.
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1971 Worlds: Eddy Merckx (Belgium) outsprints Felice Gimondi (Italy) to win his second world championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland

1971 Worlds: Eddy Merckx (Belgium) outsprints Felice Gimondi (Italy) to win his second world championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland (Image credit: AFP)
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The limited-edition EDDY70 line commemorates Eddy Merckx's forthcoming 70th birthday

The limited-edition EDDY70 line commemorates Eddy Merckx's forthcoming 70th birthday (Image credit: Eddy Merckx Cycles)

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.