"Eddy Merckx was a real professional who largely rode against cigar farmers" - Ex-pro says Tadej Pogacar far more impressive than the legendary 'Cannibal'

Tadej Pogacar was utterly dominant at the first Grand Tour of the season, taking victory by an incredibly impressive margin of just short of ten minutes at the Giro d'Italia, drawing comparisons to the legendary Eddy Merckx as a result. According to ex-pro Danny Nelissen however, Merckx is nothing special to be compared to in the first place.

"Does Pogacar come close to Eddy Merckx as the greatest cyclist of all time? I don't think Merckx is the best cyclist ever anyway," says the 53-year-old Dutchman, who rode the Tour de France three times in his career, including a second placed finish on stage 4 of the 1996 edition, in conversation with Wielerrevue. "Merckx was a real professional who largely rode against cigar farmers. People who had to work on the side because they couldn't make a living of their sport. It was a bit like the time of women's cycling today. You can compare it a bit with that. There are riders with gigantic contracts who can make a great living for their sport and there is a very large group who have to cycle for 500 euros and a shirt and pants."

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The fact that Pogacar is being so dominant against a field of supremely talented professionals in their own right, makes the Slovenian, UAE Team Emirates leader far more impressive than Merckx ever was according to Nelissen. "Everyone always talks about Eddy Merckx's hundreds of victories, but you may also wonder who he won them against," he explains.

"Currently the peloton consists of all highly paid professionals. No, I find the supremacy of Pogacar and Mathieu van der Poel more impressive than that of Merckx,” the Dutchman concludes, referencing the epic one-day performances of the Rainbow Jersey wearing Dutchman who has also drawn comparisons to Merckx in recent times thanks to the manner of his victories.

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