Leaving Van den Bossche behind on the Tourmalet...
When the mountainous stage 16 is over a tribute to Eddy Merckx will be paid after a long 41 years.
Tour organizers devised a devilish climb over 'the circle of death' high in the Pyrenees remembering Merckx's greatest stage win. July 15 1969 Merckx, the rocket, blasted over the legendary climbs of the Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque. His teammate Martin Van den Bossche, Merckx was surprised to learn, accepted an offer from another team, and this made Merckx livid. Instead of allowing him to win the KOM points at the summit of the Tourmalet, Merckx attacked. He wanted to humiliate him by taking the mountain prize and he did then rode the 130 km solo breakaway to the finish in Mourenx. The bewildered riders soon followed. Eight minutes later Michele Dancelli arrived, 15 minutes Jan Janssen and Felice Gimondi limped in.
Race director Jacques Goddet said, "Merckxissimo." And French writer Antoine Blondin perfectly called it, "the planet Merckx." Bravo Cannibal!
... cruising solo!