Eddy Merckx warmly welcomed again in Brussels fifty years later
July 4 th 2019 - 22:29
The 176 riders of the 106th Tour de France have been introduced on the Grand-Place of Brussels and rode the historical streets of the capital of Belgium including the prestigious gallery Saint-Hubert but the most emotional moment was surely when Eddy Merckx succeeded to the defending champion Geraint Thomas and his Team Ineos on stage. The all-time greatest cyclist said the best of his 525 victories was the 1969 Tour de France. Fifty years ago on July 21, he returned from Paris to be warmly welcomed by the crowd of his hometowns. “I had goosebumps”, he recalled. “Do you want to have goosebumps again?”, commentator Rodrigo Beenkens asked him. As he said “yes”, thousands of people yelled “Eddy, Eddy” just like fifty years ago and it worked out.
“He’s a legend”, said Tour de France rookie Wout van Aert who was one of the most popular riders during the presentation. Former Belgian national champion Oliver Naesen enjoyed the show of the Tour de France in his country. “This is probably the best moment of the Tour until the finish on the Champs-Elysées”, he noted. “I have a lot of respect for Eddy Merckx”, added the youngest participant Jasper Philipsen, 21. “I rode for Axel, his son, last year, so I got to meet him in a very simple way.”
75.000 people attended the défilé in the streets of the centre of Brussels.