Eddy Merckx was a household name at the height of his career.
Every sport has its Champion of Champions...
Mohammed Ali, Pele and Michael Schumacher are household names recognised even by non-fans of their chosen sports.
Eddy Merckx is the cycling equivalent.
96 days in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France
34 stage wins in the Tour de France
24 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia
6 stage wins in the Tour of Spain
There has never been a cyclist with the talent of Eddy Merckx - and there probably never will be again.
Lance Armstrong may have beaten Merckx's five Tour de France wins but in no way could he claim to dominate the sport like "The Cannibal" did in the 1970's.
Few riders today race more than 100 days a year, Merckx averaged 140 races per year between 1969 and 1973.
One of only four cyclists to win the tours of France, Italy and Spain during his career - he was 3 times World Champion, held the one-hour distance record and still holds the record for the most Tour de France stage wins.
He is also the only rider to win both the yellow and polka dot jerseys in one edition of the TdF.
Eddy Merckx was born in Belgium in 1945 and by an early age had already been nicknamed "Tour de France" by his neighbours.
He became amateur World Champion in 1964 and turned professional in 1965.
In 1967, with the real World Champion's rainbow jersey on his back, he won the Giro d'Italia and a handful of other major races. This was the start of his domination of bike racing.
In 1970, he joined the elite group of cyclists to achieve "the double" - winning both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in the same year!
By the time Merckx retired in 1978, he had won 445 races out of 1582 starts, including the Tour de France 5 times, the Giro d'Italia 5 times and the Vuelta D'Espana.
Here are the highlights of the career of Eddy Merckx...
amateur World Champion
Milan - San Remo, GP Cerami
World Champion, Milan - San Remo, Ghent - Wevelgem, Fleche Wallone
Giro d'Italia, Paris - Roubaix, Tour of Sardinia, Tour de Romandie, Tour of Catalonia, Tre Valle Varesine
Tour de France, Milan - San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Liege - Bastogne - Liege, Paris - Nice, Paris - Luxembourg, Super Prestige Pernod
Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Paris - Roubaix, Ghent - Wevelgem, Fleche Wallone, Tour of Belgium, Coppa Agostoni, Belgian National Champion, Super Prestige Pernod
World Champion, Tour de France, Milan - San Remo, Het Volk, Liege - Bastogne - Liege, GP Frankfurt, Tour of Lombardy, Tour of Belgium, Tour of Sardinia, Paris - Nice, Dauphine Libere,
Midi Libre, Super Prestige Pernod
Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Milan - San Remo, Liege - Bastogne - Liege, Fleche Wallone, GP Escaut, Tour of Lombardy, Fleche Brabanconne, Giro dell'Emilia, Super Prestige Pernod
Giro d'Italia, Tour of Spain, Het Volk, Ghent - Wevelgem, Paris - Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Liege - Bastogne - Liege, Paris - Brussels, Tour of Sardinia, GP Fourmes, GP Nations, Super Prestige Pernod
World Champion, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Super Prestige Pernod
Milan - San Remo, Amstel Gold, Tour of Flanders, Liege - Bastogne - Liege, Tour of Sardinia, Catalan Week, Super Prestige Pernod