Tour de France: cannibal party in Brussels - sports
- On Saturday starts the 106th Tour de France in Brussels.
- To kick off the tour celebrates its five-time winner Eddy Merckx, who won the France Tour for the first time 50 years ago.
- This fits into the picture: the positive tests of the Belgian wheel hero are just as ignored as the current problems.
A quiet spot is just over six kilometers from the center of Brussels, in a suburb called Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. Quite stately houses are in this area, many brick buildings, dignified atmosphere. And in the middle of it all, this oval, the perimeter perhaps 50 meters, lush greenery - and a small monument to a man who grew up in these streets and whose parents had a grocery store here.
Place des Bouvreuils actually means this little corner, place of the bullfinch. But since March he has been trading under a different name: Eddy-Merckx-Platz, named after the most successful cyclist in history.
This weekend sees the start of the 106th Tour de France in Brussels, first a flat stage, then a team time trial just a few minutes' walk from Gimpel Platz. The two days should be a reminder to Eddy Merckx. Exactly 50 years ago, the Belgian won the Tour for the first time, followed by four other triumphs, more often managed so far none. In addition, there was no one who wore the yellow jersey more often than Merckx in the long history of the tour (111 times), this legendary piece of fabric whose invention is just celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The start in Brussels is therefore a bow. But at the same time it is revealing of how the industry deals with one of its problem areas. Because Merckx, now 74 years old, was not only the most successful cyclist in history. But he was tested several times positive for banned substances. Therefore, the question arises to what extent a folk festival is appropriate in his honor at a time when the image of cycling is so sustainably damaged because of the question of doping. And there is always talk of cycling being in need of new cleanliness and new confidence.
Flashback, spring 1969. Merckx leads the Giro d'Italia, but after the 16th stage the jury takes him out of the race: a positive doping test for a stimulant. There is an outcry in the wheel landscape, and some circumstances of the finding are indeed strange. But instead of a ban, there is a no less pious pardon by the World Federation. Merckx is allowed to tour and the device for power demonstration. Ironically, in his hometown Woluwe he conquered the yellow jersey for the first time, in the end he wins the tour with a lead of almost 18 minutes, yellow jersey, green jersey, mountain jersey, everything goes to the man, whom they called the "cannibals" because of his insatiability.
Four years later: a positive test for ephedrine in the Lombardy Tour. Another four years later: a positive test on Pemolin at the Flèche Wallonne. Merckx denies doping, but this time he can not avoid a manageable penalty.
But what interests this part of Merckx's Vita already the wheel scene? She prefers to party extensively.