Eddy Merckx has become the first rider inducted in the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame. Merckx was presented the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame trophy for 1974, the year of his final Giro d’Italia victory.
Present at the event were numerous other former greats of the Merckx era and his former directeur sportif and mechanics, including Alfredo Martini, Fiorenzo Magni, Ernesto Colnago, Gianni Motta, Italo Zilioli, Giorgio Albani, Davide Boifava, Ugo De Rosa and Mario Molteni (the son of the sponsor of Merckx’s Molteni team).
Being named to the Hall of Fame of the Giro, a race he won five times, means a lot to Merckx. “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 happy very much today. For great races, you need great riders.”
Speaking of great riders, Merckx looked to Saturday's Milan-San Remo and did not see a good race Saturday for Gilbert, saying the BMC rider did not give a good impression at Tirreno-Adriatico. “Gilbert isn’t so on form but we’ll see what happens. Though if he was dropped in a team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, it’s not a good sign.”
But if Gilbert is not in shape to take the win, many others are. “I think Mark Cavendish has a good chance. If they don't drop him on the Poggio, he is hard to beat.
"Nibali is going well, he’s a classy rider, I saw him win a stage in Oman. However he’s got to learn to use his head more and race more intelligently. He lost Oman because he made a mistake. If he’s going well, he could get away on the Poggio and so perhaps win Milan-Sanremo.
"Cancellara looks good, so too does [Peter] Sagan, [Tom] Boonen and [Greg] Van Avermaet. Nobody has talked about Oscar Freire but he’ll be there after 300km and could win his fourth Sanremo"