Cannibal should be back in the saddle shortly following precautionary procedure

Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx has been fitted with a pacemaker as a precautionary measure due to potential problems associated with his irregular heartbeat.

The procedure was carried out last week in a clinic in Genk, reports Het Nieuwsblad, with the 67-year-old saying: “I was operated on by doctor Johan Van Lierde, a friend of mine.

“My heart has beat at 40 beats per minute since birth. So it was wise to take preventative measures to avoid that certain problems – among them, ones at night – might arise.“I’m now at ease on the subject,” added Merckx. who said that he should be allowed to get back on his bike within the next fortnight.

Het Nieuwsblad has also reported that in recent days, Jan Toye, owner of Palm Breweries, which dates back to 1597, has become majority shareholder in Eddy Merckx Cycles. Merckx himself retains a 6 per cent share in the firm that bears his name.

Merckx leads a busy liftestyle, travelling throughout the year to trade shows and other events, and also keeps himself active - last year, on the day of the Olympic Games opening ceremony, he arrived in London (pictured) for the opening of Belgium House at the head of a ride he had led in from Brussels.

He told Het Nieuwsbklad that following his operation, he should be allowed to get back on his bike within the next fortnight.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.