Even though Eddy Merckx has long since hung up his professional biking shoes, he still feels deeply connected to cycling. He just loves to explore the world from the saddle. He covers 7,000 kilometres every year, to keep fit. Just like before, he doesn’t give up when it gets tough. A characteristic that probably made him infamous during his active sporting days. Eddy wanted to win – always and everywhere. Tactical, effortless riding was not his thing and so he gave his absolute all on every stage, in every race and from the start to the finish line. And he won! His remarkable sporting career is crowned with five victories in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, winner of the Vuelta a España, three times World Sportsman, twice Europe’s Sportsman of the Year and being known as the best cyclist of the century.
A life for cycling
But even after his active career, Eddy Merckx is still connected to his sport. He is still successfully producing “State of the Art” road racing bikes under his own name. He is also active as an organiser and commentator of cycling races. In his spare time, he still swings himself up onto his bike and leaves the world and the stress of everyday life behind. He particularly likes to cycle through the Salzburg Lake District. For many years, he has had a special love for this region. In the wake of the UCI Road World Championships 2006 in Salzburg, he had the idea to hold an annual cycling race in this region. This race boasts not only sporting excellence, but also stunningly unique scenery. The Eddy Merckx Classic Cycling Marathon was born and the rest is, as they say, history.
Eddy Merckx Classic and Fuschl am See
Salzburg’s Eddy Merckx Classic Cycling Marathon had been a celebrated event in Salzburg, attracting about 1,500 enthusiastic cyclists to the Lake District each year. During the Corona pandemic, the series of events was halted halted, and now work is underway on further development and re-staging of the cycling marathon.
However, despite the pandemic, there is always an opportunity for cycling enthusiasts from all over the world, who feel up to it and desire a special challenge. Cyclists can now book the tour and cycle around the renowned track and the Lake District, embracing the very route that once hosted this celebrated marathon. The route passes eleven beautiful lakes in SalzburgerLand and the Salzkammergut over familiar and well-known paths. The start and finish are in picturesque Fuschl am See, allowing cyclists to experience a “race for everybody,” just as the marathon’s spirit implies.
In addition to all the sporting aspects, the idea of charity does not get forgotten. Thus, year after year the Wings for Life organisation, a spinal cord research foundation, is supported with a considerable donation.
One person that is also every year on the start line of “his” race, is the “Cannibal” himself. Because as they say: once a road bike racer, always a road bike racer!
Revisit to the 10th Eddy Merckx Classic Cycling Marathon 2016
The anniversary edition of the Eddy Merckx Classic was a real meeting of legends, because ten former cycling world champions came to this popular cycling marathon! There were also many prominent Austrian athletes who could not miss the anniversary of this cycling marathon, such as Eddy Merckx fan Andreas Goldberger, Rene Haselbacher, and Andi Prommegger.
The Hand Bike-Marathon, which in 2016 was held within the framework of the Eddy Merckx Classic for the third time, celebrated a small anniversary with more than twenty athletes starting the race.
An emotional moment was the presentation of a donations cheque to Wings for Life. The work of the International Foundation for Spinal Cord Research was further supported in this charity partnership with the Eddy Merckx Classic Cycling Marathon. € 20,000 was raised via the charity race on the previous day, as well as donations from the Eddy Merckx Classic sponsors, Stiegl and Raiffeisen.
Legends who also came to Fuschl am See from five decades of cycling history:
Jan Janssen (NED)
This 76 year old Dutchman won the World Championship in 1964 and was the oldest world champion at the Eddy Merckx Classic 2016.
Felice Gimondi (ITA)
Right in his very first professional year, the now 73-year-old won the Tour de France, and later also won the Giro d’Italia three times, and once the Vuelta. In 1973, he became world champion.
Francesco Moser (ITA)
The legendary time rider from Italy won the Giro d’Italia once and was world champion in 1977.
Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
The most successful Dutch cyclist in history, he won the Tour de France, the Vuelta and in 1985 the World Cup.
Rob Harmeling (NED)
A good friend of Eddy Merckx, he was was a member of the Dutch team in 1986 that won the world championship team time trial.
Stephen Roche (IRL)
The Irishman was only the second rider ever, behind Eddy Merckx, in 1987 to win the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Road Cycling World Championships all in one year.
Maurizio Fondriest (ITA)
The “Classic Hunter” from Italy was world champion in 1988 and won the Cycling World Cup twice in his career.
Laurent Brochard (FRA)
The Frenchman ended his career in 2008. His biggest success was winning the Road Bike World Championships in 1997.
Roland Königshofer (AUT)
The “Woodpecker” is a 29-time Austrian Champion in track cycling and was world champion three times between 1989 and 1991.
Franz Stocher (AUT)
Königshofer’s ‘successor’, he was 28 times Austrian National Champion in track cycling, twice military world champion and finally crowned his career in 2003 with the World Championship title.