• Eddy Merckx (L) looks on as Tadej Pogacar wears the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Cycling legend Eddy Merckx believes Tadej Pogačar is already in the conversation when it comes to surpassing ‘the Cannibal’ as the greatest of all time.
SBS Cycling Central

12 Oct - 8:47 AM 

The pair met with one another during a recent sponsorship event at DMT’s Verona-based headquarters and Merckx was quick to point out the 23-year-old’s legitimacy.

“I have heard many times ‘this is the new Merckx’ without the conditions being fulfilled, but with Tadej I think we are really there this time,” Merckx said, according to Tuttobiciweb.

“He is 23 and has already won the Tour de France twice, incredible. Tadej is only at the beginning of his career, I think he can do better than me in some races.

“He is 23 years old and has already won the Tour de France twice and 30 races, that is unbelievable.

“At 24, I had not even won the Tour. He is still at the beginning of his career, but I think he is doing better than me in some races.

“He is a great champion and we are going to enjoy him for many years to come.”

Pogačar claims second monument with Il Lombardia victory
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) continued his sparkling young career with another landmark win, claiming the Giro Il Lombardia in a two-up sprint against Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

Merckx, meanwhile, obtained his status after building an 18-year career decorated with five titles in both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, one in the Vuelta a Espana, and three world wins.

The Belgian was also prolific in the Classics, amassing seven victories in Milan-San Remo, five in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, three in Paris-Roubaix and two in the Tour of Flanders.

Such a list of titles can be almost overwhelming and Pogačar acknowledged as much in his praise of the 76-year-old.

“Many have told me that I am the new Merckx, but it is impossible to win everything he has won,” the UAE Team Emirates rider said.

“Eddy is a total racer; he has won everywhere. It will be difficult for me to win a Milan-San Remo (once), let alone seven like he did.

“I certainly like to win, but I also know how to accept defeat. Every race I participate in I try to make my mark, even if it is a simple criterium in Slovenia.

“But I believe it is in the nature of every cyclist.”

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