Major French award to be presented to Eddy Merckx by President Sarkozy
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Major French award to be presented to Eddy Merckx by President Sarkozy

by VeloNation Press at 12:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Belgian will become Commander of the Legion of Honour

Eddy MerckxThe world’s greatest-ever rider Eddy Merckx has long retired, but the Belgian is set to pick up yet another prize when he is awarded one of the highest French awards later this month.

The 66 year old will be presented with the Commander of the Legion of Honour prize by French president and cycling fan Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee palace on December 15th. He previously gave the same award to multiple world and Olympic champion Jeannie Longo in July.

The honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is rarely given to those from outside France. Merckx has long links with the country, both through his victories in the Tour and other French races, and also through his work with Tour organisers ASO.

However it is his sporting achievements which are by far the biggest factor in receiving the distinction. In the course of a pro career which began with Peugeot-BP in 1965 and ran until 1978, he won 525 races, including five editions of the Tour de France, five Giri d’Italia, three world road race championships, seven editions of Milan-Sanremo, five Liège-Bastogne-Liège titles, three Paris-Roubaix, two each of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Giro di Lombardia and one Vuelta a España.

He was by far the most consistent rider in the peloton, averaging one win for every three races entered.

There are five different levels in the Legion of Honour. In ascending order, they are Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).

Just over three thousand people have been given the Commander award since it was introduced. There is only one person at a time entitled to wear the Grand Croix, namely the French president himself.

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