Freddy Maertens: Once Warrior, Now Poet.
This post needs a preface-disclaimer: I'm a HUGE Freddy Maertens supporter. Always was, always will be. I know, I know...I'm not very objective on this...but to me he's simply Flandria's greatest ever. If you love the underdog, you gotta love Freddy Maertens. Freddy is a living icon of Flemish wielersport . The story of his meteoric rise and fall is well documented: The amateur phenom from West Vlaanderen with the unbeatable sprint, the neo-pro who dared to challenge Merckx, the dominant ogre who won more races in a single year than any pro ever, the rider who was virtually unbeatable in '76-'77, who suffered two zero-years filled with injury and doubt, and then, just when the whole world had written him off, rose from the ashes to win the Tour Green Jersey and a second World Championship in '81...only to fall back into the abyss. His former directeur Lomme Driessens was once quoted saying that at his peak, Maertens was better than Merckx.