'First round goes to Freddy.'
I discovered these excellent images from Jean-Pierre Le Port's very good French cycling blog: Mon Tour de France 1958: la suite.
In 1977, Freddy Maertens and Eddy Merckx were regarded as competitive foes. Although, Maertens was the younger, held great promise and scored many victories while Merckx was on the decline winning and dominating less. Still, the media was never shy to exploit their battles.
Maertens lined up as the man that won the Rainbow jersey and watching the brief video, looked so intense. Dutch National jersey winner, Jan Raas (winner of Milan-San Remo) was really the only one to offer a fight. Raas escaped with Maertens and in the end, the Belgians notorious sprinting speed was too lethal. The other Classic men to fall was Merckx riding to fifth and De Vlaminck more than a minute behind.
The media would report, First round goes to Freddy. And, it was to be a very good start for the World Champions 1977 season!
The World champ & Dutch National champ ...in control.