We know that this album belonged to a Monsieur Lecouf, but that is all we know. Who was this Lecouf?
He was Belgian, it seems. But was it him who took the pictures… or did he just collect them? Was he close to Eddy? Or was he simply another race fan, one of those devoted Tour lovers who runs across fields and climbs mountains just to snatch a photo or grab a racer’s cap still damp with sweat? And like Monsieur Lecouf, how many children, teenagers and grown-ups glued pictures of Eddy into scrapbooks like this one?
These photos seem to have been taken with a Kodak Instamatic, a very popular camera in 1971. They are shot on colour film, which is lucky because 1971 was a brightly coloured year for Eddy. At the start of the season, he shed the red jersey of Faema for the rusty merino of Molteni, his new home.
Molteni is a family of amateur racing cyclists that found fortune and glory in the world of fine Italian meat products and who sponsored one of the finest and most successful professional cycling teams of the era. Their jersey, made by Vittore Gianni, was simple and elegant: a rare tan colour with black stripes and cuffs.
“Molteni’s jersey was brown and black, dour and intense,” writes 54. “Far more representative of Merckx’s introspective and enigmatic racing nature.” And it cut through the peloton screaming. At the end of a long journey, and through a chance buy at an auction, the album is now in the hands of cyclist and collector Guirey, who keeps it safe in London.
It is a small part of many passions: the passion for Merckx of course, but also the passion for both iconic and candid mages of Merckx, a passion for the many Merckx fanatics, the simple passion for bicycle racing and the history of the bicycle… a passion for cycling culture.
This is not just a collection of photographs, it is a collection of memories.