Procycling

BELGIAN HEROES

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It’s almost impossible to narrow down Belgium’s greatest riders to six, with riders like multiple monument winner Rik Van Steenberge­n and Tour champion Lucien Van Impe also on the longlist. Here are the very best

BRIEK SCHOTTE Career: 1940-1959

NIcknamed ‘ Iron Briek’, Schotte was a two- time world champion and came second in the Tour. However it was in the Tour of Flanders that he shone - he rode it 20 times and won it twice, along with six more podiums and 16 top 25s in total.

ROGER DE VLAEMINCK Career: 1969-1984

Classics specialist De Vlaeminck rivalled Eddy Merckx in the one- day races and was the third rider to win all five monuments. His best race was ParisRouba­ix, which he won four times, but he also took six Tirreno- Adriatico victories.

RIK VAN LOOY Career: 1954-1970

Van Looy was one of the legends of Flemish cycling. He was the first ever rider to win all five monuments, including Roubaix thrice, and also took two World Road Race titles, along with 37 grand tour stages, and the Tour’s green jersey.

TOM BOONEN Career: 2002- 2017

Boonen has been Belgium’s most popular 21st century cyclist, specialisi­ng on the cobbles. He is the outright or joint record holder for career wins in all four of E3, Wevelgem, Flanders and Roubaix, and also won the Tour’s green jersey.

EDDY MERCKX Career: 1965-1978

Merckx is the greatest male cyclist ever. He won every major race multiple times, including five Tours, five Giri and a Vuelta, and 68 stages along the way, plus 19 monuments, including seven Milan- San Remo wins, and three Worlds.

PHILIPPE GILBERT Career: 2003- present

The best cyclist ever to have come from Wallonia, Gilbert has won every monument except Milan- San Remo, where he has twice been third. His best year was 2011, when he took a rare Amstel- Flèche- Liège hat trick.

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