It has been revealed that five times Tour de France champion Eddy Merckx has undergone what he describes as minor heart surgery in Brussels after suffering chest pains and reportedly collapsing last weekend.
The 69-year-old, who during a glittering career spanning the mid-1960s to mid-1970s won all three Grand Tours and five Monuments - many of them multiple times - plus the world championship three times, confirmed to sports broadcaster Sporza that he had undergone the procedure at the Jette university hospital in Brussels.
Merckx, who had a pacemaker fitted last year to correct an irregular heartbeat, described it as a “minor procedure” aimed at preventing the development of a combination of cardiac arrhythmias and blood clots.” He added that he hoped to return home soon.
Sporza says that ahead of his admission to hospital earlier this weekend, Merckx had ridden his bike for 70km on Saturday and 80km on Sunday, adding that last week he also took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Anthony Vanden Borre, who plays football for Anderlecht – the team Merckx supports – did the honours, as you can see in this video, and the cycling champion in turn nominated his son Axel and former world champion Philippe Gilbert to have a bucket of freezing water poured over their heads, too.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.