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Merckx gets green light to leave hospital

Belgian hero returns home in good condition after falling from his bike last week and spending five days under observation.

Cycling legend Eddy Merckx left a Belgian hospital Saturday a week after falling during a bike ride.

The Belgian daily “Het Laatste Nieuws” reported that Merckx, 74, was given the green light to go home following a week of observation in the hospital after hitting his head during a fall last weekend.

“Eddy is doing well, but he got a scare,” said longtime friend Paul Van Himst. “He’s such a strong character that he still rides 70km on the group rides. When I tell him he needs to slow down he doesn’t want to hear it. No one knows how he fell, but he took a blow to the head. Good thing he was wearing a helmet.”

Doctors didn’t want to take any chances with the Belgian hero, who has had a pacemaker for several years, and kept him under observation perhaps longer than expected. Without showing any signs of serious injury, Merckx returned home in good condition, the newspaper reported.

Cycling’s “Cannibal” was the center of attention at the start of this year’s Tour de France in Brussels that marked the 50th anniversary of the first of his five Tour wins.