This photo is perhaps the greatest of all time; it shows The Prophet riding in the 1969 Ronde van Vlaanderen, kit and machine perfect. Rule #9 conditions in abundance. He’s gone off the front with some 80km left to race, which predictably sent his directeur into a rage. Ordered to return to the bunch, Merckx calmly suggested he go screw himself. It would be a dishonor to sit up and wait for the bunch when there was still strength in his legs. He stayed away to the finish.
Long, kamikaze breakaways were his bread and butter. The idea that he might wait for the last climb or make a shrewd tactical move were completely foreign to him; whether in the leaders jersey or not, if his legs itched, he pushed on the pedals and left the bunch behind – no matter how far it was to the finish and how great his lead already was. That is class. That is panache That is an example for the conservative modern rider. Classy, stylish, obsessive, meticulous, and devastatingly tough. The Prophet was a unique animal, the perfect combination of what lies at the core of the Velominati and The V. We each endeavor to uphold the standard he laid down during his career and since. Continue reading