This man above is probably responsible more than anyone for my obsession with professional bike racing. Freddy Maertens was the real deal when I was growing up. I finally met him on a detour to the Tour Of Flanders museum in Oudenaarde. He was a brilliantly gifted rider. He could sprint as fast as anyone. He nurtured Sean Kelly in his early years and won a lot of races. He fell on hard times after he finished racing but in the late seventies and early eighties he was the man.
He rode for Flandria which after Raleigh was my favourite team. You never got much information at that time but odd snippets came through. I remember reading about him when I first got my Raleigh racing bike. I polished it most days and pretended I was a racer.
Freddy was in the museum and casually told me he won the World Championship twice.
Of course I already knew that and responded by telling him that he was as quick as Mark Cavendish. He replied "We will never know eh".
The museum is a nice place to visit and I have wanted to go there for years. I might even go back and do the Tour Of Flanders route.
The first time I ever heard of him was when he won all those stages in the Tour De France. I even had to look it up.
Eight ( YES ) Eight stage wins.
Embroiled in controversy from the early years until he retired. That was and still is Freddy.
Even Kelly admitted he was the fastest man he ever raced with.