Rik Van Looy

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Rik Van Looy
Rik van Looy 1962.jpg
Van Looy in 1962
Personal information
Full nameHenri Van Looy
NicknameRik II
Keizer van Herentals
Born (1933-12-20) 20 December 1933 (age 87)
Grobbendonk, Belgium
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider typeClassics Specialist
Professional teams
1954 Bianchi–Pirelli
1955Van Hauwaert–Maes Pils
1956–1962 Faema–Guerra
1963 G.B.C.–Libertas
1964–1966 Solo–Superia
1967–1970 Willem II–Gazelle
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
Points classification (1963)
7 individual stages (1963, 1965, 1969)
Giro d'Italia
Mountain classification (1960)
12 individual stages (1959, 1960, 1961, 1962)
Vuelta a España
Points Classification (1959, 1965)
18 individual stages (1958, 1959, 1964, 1965)

One-day races and Classics

Road Race World Championships (1960, 1961)
Belgian National Road Race Championship (1958, 1963)
Milan–San Remo (1958)
Tour of Flanders (1959, 1962)
Paris–Roubaix (1961, 1962, 1965)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège (1961)
Giro di Lombardia (1959)

Henri "Rik" Van Looy (born 20 December 1933 in Grobbendonk) is a Belgian former professional cyclist of the post-war period, nicknamed the King of the Classics or Emperor of Herentals (after the small Belgian town where he lived). He was twice world professional road race champion, and was the first cyclist to win all five 'Monuments': the most prestigious one-day classics  – a feat since achieved by just two others (both also Belgians: Roger De Vlaeminck and Eddy Merckx). With 379 road victories he's second to Merckx only. He is ninth on the all-time list of Grand Tour stage winners with thirty-seven victories.



Van Looy in 2010 Rik-van-loy-1273990751.jpg
Van Looy in 2010

Van Looy rose to prominence when he won the Belgian amateur road championship in 1952. He repeated the victory the following year, adding third place in the world title race the same year, before turning professional. At the 1952 Summer Olympics, he won a gold medal in the team road race event. [1]

A powerful sprinter, Van Looy won two races in what was left of his first professional season (1953), and 20 more over the next couple of seasons. In 1956, his victories included Gent–Wevelgem and Paris–Brussels, plus two stages and overall victory in the Tour of the Netherlands. He also won a silver medal in the world road race championship, behind his countryman Rik Van Steenbergen. He repeated his Gent–Wevelgem and Tour of the Netherlands victories in 1957, and in 1958 won the season's opening classic, Milan–San Remo.

1959 saw Van Looy take the early-season Tour of Flanders and the autumn classic, the Giro di Lombardia. In between, he scored another 38 victories, including three stages of the Vuelta a España (finishing third overall and winner of the points competition) and four stages of the Giro d'Italia (for 4th overall).

In 1960, he scored the first of two consecutive victories in the world road race championship, but Classic victories eluded him. However, he made up for this in 1961, winning both Paris–Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège – making him the first rider to take all five 'Monuments' – as well as retaining his rainbow world title jersey, and taking three stages, plus the mountains competition, in the Giro.

Van Looy scored two more Classic wins in 1962 (Paris–Roubaix, Tour of Flanders), took another Gent–Wevelgem, and two more Giro stages. In 1963 Van Looy rode the Tour de France, taking four stages en route to victory in the points competition and a 10th place on general classification; he also grabbed a silver in the world title race. In the latter race, held in Ronse in his native Belgium, he was beaten in the sprint by his countryman Benoni Beheyt. Van Looy, starting the sprint too early, did not take this defeat lightly. This race has remained memorable in the history of Belgian cycling.

In 1965, he scored 42 victories including Paris–Roubaix, and eight stages of the Vuelta on his way to his second third place overall (his highest placing in a Grand Tour). For good measure, he also took two stages in the Tour de France.

During the final years of his career (1966–1970), Van Looy's road performances began to fade, as the new Belgian star Eddy Merckx rose to prominence, but he still grabbed second in the 1967 Paris–Roubaix, won La Flèche Wallonne in 1968, and took a stage of the 1969 Tour de France. His rivalry with Eddy Merckx reached the height of sabotage of Merckx in the world championships in 1969. [2]

Van Looy was also a star on the track, winning 11 Six-day races. His first came in Brussels in 1957, his last in Antwerp in 1968. For nine of these victories, he was paired with Dutchman Peter Post.

Major results

Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium national amateur road race champion
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium national amateur road race champion
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium national interclubs road race champion
Ronde van Nederland
Six days of Brussels (with Willy Vannitsen)
Coppa Bernocchi
Ronde van Nederland
Schaal Sels-Merksem
Coppa Bernocchi
Six Days of Ghent (with Reginald Arnold)
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium national interclubs road race champion
Vuelta a España:
Winner stages 4, 5B, 6, 9 and 10
Milan–San Remo
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium National Road Race Championship
Giro d'Italia:
Winner stages 1, 5, 11 and 14
4th place overall classification
Giro di Sardegna
Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen – Koolskamp
Tour of Flanders
Vuelta a España:
Winner stages 1B, 8, 9 and 11
3rd place overall classification
Winner points classification
Vuelta a Levante
Giro di Lombardia
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Six Days of Berlin (with Peter Post)
Giro d'Italia:
Winner stages 7B, 8 and 11
Jersey green.svg Winner mountains classification
World Road Race Championships
Six Days of Ghent (with Peter Post)
Six days of Antwerp (with Willy Vannitsen and Peter Post)
Six days of Köln (with Peter Post)
Giro d'Italia:
Winner stages 13, 15 and 17
7th place overall classification
Tour of Belgium
World Road Race Championships
Six days of Brussels (with Peter Post)
Six Days of Ghent (with Peter Post)
Six days of Antwerp (with Oscar Plattner and Peter Post)
Six days of Berlin (with Peter Post)
Six days of Dortmund (with Peter Post)
Giro d'Italia:
Winner stages 9 and 11
Giro di Sardegna
Tour of Flanders
Grand Prix du Parisien
Boucles de l'Aulne
Tour de France:
Winner stages 2, 8, 13 and 21
10th place overall classification
Jersey green.svg Winner Points classification Tour de France
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium National Road Race Championship
Boucles de l'Aulne
Vuelta a España:
Winner stage 2
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
Giro di Sardegna
Tour de France:
Winner stages 1 and 19
Vuelta a España:
Winner stages 1, 2, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15 and 17
Winner points classification
3rd place overall classification
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
La Flèche Wallonne
Six Days of Antwerp (with Peter Post and Patrick Sercu)
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
Tour de France:
Winner stage 4
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium National track madison Championship (with Patrick Sercu)

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  1. "Rik Van Looy Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  2. Van Walleghem, Rik (1993). Eddy Merckx:the greatest cyclist of the 20th century. Pinguin Productions. ISBN   1-884737-72-2.

Further reading