Gravel is hot. Every bike brand needs to have a gravel bike, and so does Eddy Merckx. Of course gravel didn’t yet exist during Eddy’s career, so we had to dig deep to find a suitable name.
Let’s go back to the 1971 Tour de France. It was to be Eddy’s third Tour victory, but of course he didn’t know that back then. The Grand Depart was held in
Mulhouse, and those first stages were ridden along the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland.
The second stage arrived at the Tivoli Stadium in Strasbourg. But the 144 km stage left several casualties. At the Col du Firstplan (around 5 km and 5%), Zoetemelk made sure the peloton exploded. A group of 16 escaped with Merckx, Van Impe, Thevenet and De Vlaeminck present. They decided to join forces and race for victory themselves; the peloton lost 10 minutes that day.
Entering the Tivoli Stadium Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck got away. Eddy entered the stadium first, but De Vlaeminck quickly passed him. The soil was ideal for cyclo-cross champion De Vlaeminck: the track was covered with typical tiny gravel particles. De Vlaeminck had the advantage, but at the last corner Merckx made an unexpected move. He countered De Vlaeminck and passed him on the outside.
Journalists went nuts when Merckx passed the finish. They asked him: “Why did you take so many risks for just a stage win?” Eddy replied: “We are here to win, right?”
What makes this bike special?