Tour de France 1969: The Tour of Eddy Merckx in photos

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Eddy Merckx through the lens of Belgian photographer Jef Geys during the 1969 Tour de France

Photographs: Jef Geys
Eddy Merckx

In the summer of 1969, Belgian photographer Jef Geys embarked on a road trip to capture the debut Tour de France victory of his countryman, Eddy Merckx.

 

Eddy Merckx

Taken from the perspective of the pure amateur, Geys’ images offer a unique snapshot on professional cycling in the late 1960s as his lens pokes and peers through the huddles of crowds in search of the star of the show.

 

His juxtaposition of urban landscapes and the general public around the Tour brings added layers of vitality to a world almost 50 years old.

 

Eddy Merckx

 

 

Eddy Merckx

 

 

Eddy Merckx

“Geys has produced a series of photographs which juxtaposes a range of ethnological, sociological, urbanist and artistic realities,” says curator Sylvie Boulanger.

 

“The images treat the riders on an equal footing as the fans and the onlookers, and the logos and adverts in the stage towns become a sort of symbolic literature for the event.”

 

Eddy Merckx

Geys often took photographs while peering through the crowds, in this instance at the Vélodrome de Vincennes.

 

Eddy Merckx

His images capture the surrounding furniture of the Tour de France: cars, architecture, bystanders’ fashions and the ever-present bright sunshine and warmth of the French summer.

 

Eddy Merckx

Many scenes will appear all too familiar to followers of the modern day Tour, accentuating the changes in equipment, clothing and style.

 

Eddy Merckx

The lobby: people watching while lying in wait for Merckx at the team hotel.

 

Eddy Merckx

1969 saw Merckx take his memorable stage win across the Pyrenees to Mourenx. At the age of just 24, he won the Tour from Roger Pingeon by over 17 minutes.

 

Eddy MerckxThe altar to Eddy Merckx: a visit to the “church of cycling”

 

Eddy Merckx