Eddy Merckx won his first Giro d'Italia at age 22 and would spend a phenomenal total of 78 days in the maglia rosa throughout his career, the most of any rider.
In this video, the magic of Merckx is captured with highlights of his five victories of the Italian grand tour. Last week, the Belgian became the first man to be inducted into the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame, something which he responded to with reverence.
"Being the first person in the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame is a great honour for me. I consider Italy my second home. I'm loved as much in Italy as I am in Belgium. I have a lot of fans here and that's very special for me," Merckx said.
"Italian cycling gave me a lot. My first big wins were in Italy. Then I joined an Italian team and learned a lot. Fiorenzo Magni became a good friend. He took me to criteriums and then introduced me to Colnago, who became my mechanic and built my bike for the hour record. After that Ugo De Rosa taught me how to make bikes and helped me create my own bike company."
"Our era was special because all the great riders rode all the big races and competed against each other. It's a pity that doesn't happen very much today. For great races, you need great riders."