Eddy Merckx devastated after Gimondi's death: "I lose a friend"

Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx is deeply touched by the decease of Italy's cycling hero Felice Gimondi, who passed away at 76. "I can't even remember how many times we were both reaching out to victory." 

Gimondi suffered a hart attack when he was swimming in the sea in Sicily. "He was one of the greatest cyclists of all times and a real gentleman", says Eddy Merckx, who is only two years youngers than Gimondi.

"Two weeks ago we had contact a last time. How many times were we competing on the road? This time I lost. I lose a friend and the opponent of my life. We were rivals for many years, but at the end of our career we became friends. We still kept in touch. I am devastated", Merckx (74) said. 

Gimondi was one of the few riders to win the three big cycling tours: Italy (Giro), France and Spain (Vuelta). But he also won classic races like Paris-Roubaix. His record could have been much more impressive if it hadn't been for Eddy Merckx, who won both the Giro and the Tour de France five times.  

Mondadori Portfolio/Giorgio Lotti