Eddy Merckx is Belgium’s most famous bicycle racer and one of the best-known and loved “ambassadors” from the Brussels-Capital region.
With 525 victories during his career, including winning the Tour de France five times, Eddy Merckx holds the record for the number of yellow jerseys worn (111 times!). He grew up in Brussels, where he achieved his first major successes. He trained himself in the Brussels Region thanks to its many racecourses.
Here are some important landmarks in the capital that form part of his legendary history.
Eddy Merckx Square
Opened on 28 March 2019, this square in Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, Place des Bouvreuils, pays tribute to the former cycling champion. He grew up and lived in the commune for 27 years with his parents, who owned a grocery store in the square. It was also where Eddy Merckx gained his first yellow jersey, during a Tour de France stage in 1969.
In July 1969, Eddy Merckx was cheered by thousands on the balcony at the Hôtel de Ville, for his superb performance in the Tour de France. The cyclist wore his first yellow jersey to Paris that year. This honour, which is given to a very limited number of athletes, meant the people of Brussels could come and cheer their champion in the world’s most beautiful square, Grand-Place.
Eddy Merckx competed in his first race in Laeken on 16 July 1961, finishing in sixth place. The 25 editions of the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx also took place in Laeken, between 1980 and 2004. The time trial race, which covered a distance of 42km, started off with cyclists racing alone, then in teams of two.
In July 2019, 50 years after Eddy donned his first yellow jersey, Laeken will see the greatest racers draw on their last reserves to cross the winning line.
Eddy Merckx metro station in Anderlecht
The bike that the “Cannibal” used during his Hour Record in 1972 is on displayed on the main platform of this metro station, which was opened in 2003. Each day thousands of passengers gaze at the bike which enabled Eddy to start building his legend.
Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht
A football enthusiast, Eddy Merckx became a big fan of the Anderlecht football club through his great friend, former footballer Paul Van Himst. Together, they regularly return to the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium to cheer on the Mauves.
La Belle Maraîchère
This seafood restaurant located in the heart of the capital is the former racer's favourite. He still goes there regularly with his friend Paul Van Himst to enjoy, among other things, the delicious Prawn Croquettes.