Gallery: Happy 75th birthday, Eddy Merckx

Eddy Merckx is celebrating his 75th birthday today, and like many events in cycling right now, Merckx is celebrating his special day behind closed doors to ensure health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

A five-time winner of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, and triple world champion, Merckx born on June 17, 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem, in Flemish Brabant, Belgium. Merckx is marking this day with family, just a few kilometers away in Meise.

Eddy’s son Axel Merckx, team director for Hagens Berman Axeon, is currently confined to Canada, and was unable to attend.

The Brussels Times reported Merckx’s plans. “Depending on the weather, we will take a bike ride with my teammates from the past,” he told the local VRT radio station. “And in the evening we’ll go out for dinner with the children, grandchildren and friends. But not with more than ten people. We still respect the corona[virus] measures.”

As a kind gesture and a bit of a surprise, Merckx was visited by the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, who showed up at his door as arranged, but also accompanied by three old cycling companions: Jos De Schoenmaecker (72), Jos Spruyt (77) en Willy Vekemans (75).

Last November, Merckx suffered an injury when he fell off of his bicycle. Explaining to the newspaper La Derniere Heure, the Belgian cycling icon said he’s doing well, but recovery is not moving as fast as he’d hoped, “It’s going slowly,” Merckx said. “I don’t ride like I did before my fall.”