Legends of Roubaix: Rik Van Looy

From the Rapha Blog, by Joe Hall

Known as Rik II, the Emperor of Herentals and the King of the Classics, Henri “Rik” Van Looy’s royal status came about because he was the first man to win all five major classics. This Belgian phenomenon of the post-war period is sometimes overlooked by his younger compatriots Merckx and De Vlaeminck. Yet this powerful rider from the Flandrian town of Herentals competed against riders such as Jacques Anquetil and Louison Bobet.

He took the Hell of the North spoils no less than three times in his career, a feat only bettered by one other man – De Vlaeminck, his rightful heir as the King of the Classics. A powerful rouleur but also a very good climber, in 1961, riding for Faema, he won Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege which saw him become the first rider to take all five Monuments, having also won Milan San-Remo, Giro di Lombardia and the Tour of Flanders. In 1962 Van Looy won Paris–Roubaix for a second time and in the same season also won the Tour of Flanders, another Gent–Wevelgem, and two stages of the Tour of Italy.

In 1965, Van Looy scored 42 race victories including his third Paris–Roubaix title. Although Van Looy’s dominance was challenged by new Belgian star Eddy Merckx as the 1960s progressed, he still managed to take second in the 1967 edition. Van Looy also rode to nine six day victories with Dutchman Peter Post.

One of the latest Rapha Club Jerseys honours Rik Van Looy, the King of the Classics.


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