After a very sucessfull launch of the Flemish version of 'IT'S ALL ABOUT FREDDY' colouring book in Roeselare, Freddys home town, being sat next to Freddy for the day brought home the affection, respect and love, for a cycling legend who is humble, one who spends time chatting with fans, signing autographs and posing for photographs. It was an honour to be part of the day. The event is an annual Freddy Maertens Cycling Tour ride, organised by the owner of a large builders yard, transformed for the day to hold many many cyclist riding 3 different lengths of ride, then drinking Belgian beer, eating frites and mayonnaise, meeting their cycling hero, and by no means rushing away. It is definately on our annual pilgrimage to Belgium from now on, always on the first Sunday in July, and word is next years 100km route will be to Roubaix (via the cobbles).
*Here I will include extra information regarding Freddy's story mising from the colouring book, where space dictated that details are very brief and need a little more explaning.
A laxative was put in Freddy's drink during the world champs. He was handed it while he was in the lead with Thevenet and Conti. Freddy said his masseur, had told GustNaessens - Merckx's soigneur- that he was going to eat and asked him to hand a bottle to his rider. Freddy took the bottle because he trusted Naessens, he asked him " What did you do in Montreal?" Naessens replied "You were too good for my guy, so I put some thing in it to block you".
Eddy Planckaert's fear of flying was legendary amongst his fellow riders, as was his claustrophobia. As a child he was in a car crash that killed his father and he has had nightmares ever since. So the brothers did not fly to the races and were not on the plane on the Tour transfer with their flandria team mates in the terrrible storm, thankfully the plane stayed up and its occupants survived.
Eddy Merckx was off the front after attacking on the Oude Kawaremont, but was caught by Freddy and Roger De Vleminck. After the steep Koppenbery many riders changed bikes without the low gears. Freddy did not take his bike from the team car, but from the roadside, he was told he had broken the rules, but not pulled from the race, he towed De Vleminck to the finish after he had promised Freddy 300,00 francs, he paid 150,00 which Freddy gave to Demeyer and Pollentier for their help, but never paid the further 150,00. De Vleminck says they never discussed money. At the Ronde van Vlaanderen museum on the line of cobblestones engraved with the winners, there is an additional stone for 1977 calling Freddy the "Moral winner".
Freddy's biography written with warts and all. Freddy offers a very honest insight into the race fixing and doping that went on during his time in the pro peloton. It's also an invaluable insight into how fragile our champions often are.