Gotta serve somebody: Eddy Schepers and the domestique's calling

Eddy Schepers hands Stephen Roche a bidon at the 1987 Giro d'Italia
Eddy Schepers hands Stephen Roche a bidon at the 1987 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Most domestiques were once future champions. Eddy Schepers certainly was. In his final year as an amateur in 1977, he started the summer with victory at the prestigious Giro delle Regioni and finished it by beating Johan van der Velde and Roberto Visentini to become the first Belgian winner of the Tour de l'Avenir.

In doing so, Schepers became the first man to achieve a Franco-Italian double, only ever replicated by Sergei Sukhoruchenkov – the Soviet rider heralded as the Eddy Merckx of the Eastern Bloc. The following season, Schepers had a brief chance to measure himself against 'The Cannibal' in person, turning professional at C&A, where Merckx spent the final, guttering weeks of his career before the flame was quenched.

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