The first ever English-language biography of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time, by William Fotheringham, Britain's biggest-selling cycling biographer
What makes a man the greatest of all time?
Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football; quite simply, the best there has ever been. Throughout his professional career Merckx amassed an astonishing 445 victories. Lance Armstrong, by comparison, has managed fewer than 100.
For Britain's leading cycling writer, William Fotheringham, the burning question remains, why? What made Eddy Merckx so invincible?
Merckx was a machine. It wasn't just the number of victories; it was his remorseless domination that created the legend. Once, already comfortably leading the 1969 Tour de France, Merckx hammered a further eight and a half minutes out of his nearest rivals during an 85-mile solo break in the Pyrenees.
But his triumphs only tell half a story that includes drug-busts, horrific injury and death. He was nicknamed 'The Cannibal' for his insatiable appetite for victory, but the moniker did scant justice to this handsome, sensitive, and surprisingly anxious man.
In Half Man, Half Bike, Fotheringham goes back to speak to those who were there at the time. The result is the extraordinary and definitive story of a man whose fear of failure would drive him to reach the highest pinnacles before ultimately destroying him.
“Merckx - a natural champion who regularly rode himself and others into agony and glory - is a fine choice for a writer of Fotheringham's skill and cycling knowledge... A fascinating, often bleak portrait of remarkable athlete and an unnerving man.”
Brian Schofield, Sunday Times
“A fine portrait of obsession”
“Remarkable and impressive … everything you want to know about Merckx and more.”
Richard Abraham, Cycling Weekly
“The Cantona or Muhammad Ali of cycling, this Belgian’s story is amazing – and it’s told by one of the greatest cycling reporters around... Top Notch”
“The full unvarnished of one man’s heaven, and hell, on wheels.”
“The extraordinary and definitive story of a man whose fear of failure would drive him to the highest pinnacles, before ultimately destroying him.”
“The Muhammad Ali of cycling.”
“Packed with stories of controversies, falls, secret deals and bitter recriminations.”
John Foot, Times Literary Supplement
Graham Robb, Guardian