If ever there was a photo that illustrated why anyone would be given the monicker, “The Canibal”, this is it.
I devoted a full seventeen seconds to ‘finding out the history’ of this picture, and came up empty. G’Phant sent this my way with a short but clear note, “This photo looks like it was taken at the moment Merckx was told Moser beat his Hour record; I look forward to learning the true history.” His email went on to imply Merckx threatened to eat Moser’s entire family and that he followed through with the threat.
That’s exactly the kind of hyperbolae the Velominati try to stay away from; everyone knows Fancesco Moser is still alive – Merckx couldn’t possibly have eaten everyone in his family. The only plausible explanation would be that it was a sinister endeavor in which Moser alone was left alive to wallow in the agony of his singular survival. It is a widely accepted fact, however, that Merckx gained a lot of weight after this photo was taken. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions in this matter.
With no legitimate evidence to counter it – and as an unaccredited and completely untrustworthy member of the media, it only seems natural to assume the thesis of Geof’s email – that this is the very moment in which he was informed of the new Hour Record – is correct. (When I say ‘natural’, I actually mean ‘easy’.) While in principle I agree that Merckx’s comment was uncharacteristic in it’s lack of class, I urge you to consider that, based on the look on the Cannibal’s face, his official comment, “For the first time in the history of the Hour record a weaker man has beaten a stronger man” was not one of an uncharacteristic quip but one of self-constraint. What he meant to say was, “I am the Cannibal. I will eat you where you stand.”
If you feel Merckx owes Moser an apology, I suggest that you tell him.
Thanks to G’Phant and Buck Rogers for the inspiration to this article.