Friday, June 21, 2024

A Look at the Eddy Merckx and Jacky Ickx Exhibition


HomeDiariesA Look at the Eddy Merckx and Jacky Ickx Exhibition

The Monday after Kuurne can be a bit of a downer, most of the bike shops are shut and you know that reality is just one sleep away…

Eddy Merckx
Callum and Rudy Revenge take in the morning air.

But not this one; first up we had an interview with Rudy Pevenage – strangely, there were no scales, horns or tail on view and rather than being the devil incarnate we met a man who – like so many others – ‘did what he had to do’ in era where the UCI as much as invited you to kit up.

As Frans Assez used to say; ’49.9 eh ? then I think I ride at 49.8, eh ?’

Eddy Merckx
Rudy Pevenage.

Pevenage watches cycling on TV every day but you can tell it’s eating him up that he’s no longer part of a world he loves.

‘Good riddance !’ says you; OK, but what about Bjarne, Giuseppe, Jonathan and – dare I mention it – Sky’s own Servais ?

But this isn’t a D-word rant, it’s a look at a beautiful exhibition dedicated to two of Belgium’s finest sportsmen on the year of their 70th birthday.

Eddy Merckx
This way to the Merckx exhibition.
Eddy Merckx
Two mates.

Motorbike, Formula I, Endurance and Rally Raid star, Jacky Ickx; twice a runner-up in the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship, six times a winner at Le Mans and a champion in Paris-Dakar.

He was as famous, versatile and brilliant as the other man whose career gets a spotlight shone upon it – a certain Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx.

Eddy Merckx
Eddy’s career summarised here.

Any doubts you have about the production values are dispelled as soon as you cross the gangway to the entrance door where Eddy stares majestically into the middle distance with every one of his 525 wins recorded above him and round into the huge exhibition spaces.

Eddy Merckx
A young Ted.

The pictures are brilliant; many I’ve never seen before and encompassing his life from a young boy right up to his last race.

Eddy Merckx
Eddy’s National Champion’s jersey.

But it’s not just pictures; there’s a fabulous collection of jerseys from his early amateur days right up to his last C & A maillots.

Eddy Merckx
We can only imagine.

Quotes abound, we liked this one…

Eddy Merckx
Eddy with his dad in the grocery store, and racing as a young pro.

The variety is enormous; in an obviously posed shot, young Ted helps Paw Merckx in the family grocers shop right next to a shot of a fresh faced Eddy beside Walter Godefroot on the podium of the 1965 Belgian pro champs.

Eddy’s face says it all; ‘I’ll soon have more jerseys than you can shake a stick at, Walt !

And have a wee look at Walter’s eyes; I didn’t know they had Red Bull back then…

Eddy Merckx
The trophy cabinet.

The trophy display is magnificent – don’t forget that as well as all those wins there were a huge number of podiums and classification wins.

Eddy Merckx
A wall of exploits.

On the ‘TV wall’ you can watch Eddy winning in two dozen places at once – road, track and time trial.

Eddy Merckx
The famous tunnel next to the Strada Statale Uno.

If you’ve ever watched the finale of The Primavera then you’ll be aware of the tunnel on the coast road a few K’s before the Poggio; they’ve recreated it here.

Eddy Merckx
Eddy’s Hour Record track bike, preserved behind glass.

And there it is, sealed in a case as befits a precious jewel, the Hour Record bike.

This is no replica, it’s the real deal; how do we know ?

Have a look at the seat post and pedals; made as ‘one off’ specials in a magnesium alloy by Campagnolo, the passage of the years has seen the wonder material react with the air and turn black.

And check out the ‘one off’ titanium handlebar extension which carry Eddy’s favourite Cinelli 66 ‘bars.

Eddy Merckx
Ernesto Colnago holds his custom creation.

And a younger Ernesto Colnago – Ted’s personal mechanic on the gig – stares out us with his lovely creation; the chamfering and polishing work on the cranks is sublime.

And who wouldn’t kill for his Molteni cardigan ?

Eddy Merckx
Windsor cigarette’s featured on the head tube.

One of the sponsors of the attempt was Mexican cigarette manufacturer, Windsor; and like anyone who comes up with the dosh – they get a name check.

Eddy Merckx
Dave tests himself against the Hour Record power required.

We decided to put Dave on the test rig where you can challenge Ted’s Mexico wattage for one minute – suffice to say that no ‘plane tickets to Mexico were booked as a result…

Eddy Merckx
Snow in Paris – Nice.

Some of the pictures remind us that when we dinosaurs talk about; ‘men being harder back then’ we’re not just letting nostalgia get the better of us.

The above shot is from Paris-Nice.

Eddy Merckx
Tom Simpson features in the exhibition too.

There’s a huge media archive on display with not all of it relating to Eddy; rest in peace Monsieur Tom.

Eddy Merckx
Dave wishes the taps were operational.

We did like the replica 60’s Flanders bar complete with race going past – courtesy a video wall – and Faema coffee machine.

No buxom barmaid though, unfortunately.

Eddy Merckx
Eddy’s Superia is in beautiful condition.

As well as the Hour Record bike, there was a bike there from all of Eddy’s trade teams – and as far as we could see they were all authentic with just about all the right bits in the right places.

You may think; ‘that goes without saying’ but it doesn’t – if you’ve ever visited the Madonna del Ghisallo cycling museum you’ll be aware of the horrible mismatch of components that can happen if things aren’t properly curated.

Our only quibble was with the brake levers on the Peugeot team bike…

Eddy Merckx