Here we present a bike that Eddy Merckx rode in the Tour de France 1975. This Team Molteni bike was built by Ugo De Rosa.
Basically we think that this is enough said.
But for everybody else, here are some additional words:
Some bikes are interwoven with the history of cycling sport and its champions in a way that is humbling to anyone who has the chance to take a glimpse of them. They are iconic artefacts, deeply loaded with stories and anecdotes. Each of which roots in the soil of unique performances which brings forth to legends. This is one of these bikes and it has many stories to tell. But we will only briefly touch three of them:
A story of a cyclist and his framebuilder. A story of pure willpower. And a story of a present fitly for a champion.
In 1973 the shooting star of the cycling scene, Eddy Merckx, approached the ingenious frame builder Ugo De Rosa and asked him to be his mechanic on the Molteni team and build their bikes.
Ugo, who knew Eddy and had already made some frames for him, said yes. The rest is history.
One of the outcomes of this collaboration was Eddy Merckx' super victorious year 1974, with the winning of the Giro, the Tour de France, the Tour de Suisse and the World Championships.
As a frame builder, Ugo de Rosa was absolutely the measure of all things at this time. In fact, in the Giro d'Italia of 1974, an estimated 80% of all riders in the peloton rode on bikes which were built by De Rosa. And he was the perfect counterpart of a technical detail-ridden Eddy Merckx who asked for small changes in frames and forks for every special task. For the difficult Giro of 74, Eddy called for no less than 6 frames, which Ugo should deliver within one week. De Rosa ended up sleeping in his workshop to complete this task.
The year 1975 started well for Eddy with the triumph in three monuments and it could have been another record breaking season if bad luck would not have been to strike him. But instead in the retrospective of events, it was a year which should herald the beginning of the end of his active carreer. And this mostly because Eddy demanded more from his body than was good for him.
It started when in Catalonia he lost his most important super-domestique due to a broken bone. Than he fell ill, thus was not able to train enough for the Tour de France. And when the Tour was on, he had to struggle with the aversion of the French spectators who favoured the French Thévenet over the Belgian machine who was about to take the record of the most won Tours from the Frenchman Anquetil.
In an important stage, Eddy was punched in the kidneys by a spectator and as a consequence lost important time. He began to take higher risks and crashed, then crashed again, breaking his jawbone. On top he was diagnosed with an inflamed liver.
However he continued racing, showing off his panache whenever there was a possibility.
He forced himself through inhuman efforts without a real chance of winning anything than the prize money for second place, so his team mates would not have to leave with empty pockets. His sheer will to overcome the obvious pain he was going through earned him respect even from the French cycling fans.
Merckx might have never shown his right to be called a sportsman and champion to a greater measure than he did in those days of cruel torture in France. In the end he was the honorable second in this race. But he payed with his physical constitution. Later he stated that he should have quit because the strain had cost him at least one or two more successful seasons.
Could there been something better for a cycling fan than this bike? Hardly. But wait! there is even more!
With the bike comes a complete Team Molteni winter outfit, given to Bjerre by Merckx himself.
Hat, jersey, shorts - it is all there. Even an unworn pair of those extra fine Merckx cycling gloves.
Well, we have to admit this is nothing less than the jackpot for any cycling enthusiast, collector and Merckx fan.
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