Rik Van Looy

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 city 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.

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 88)
Grobbendonk, Belgium
Team information
Current teamRetired
RoleRider
Rider typeClassics Specialist
Sprinter
Professional teams
1953–1954l'Avenir
1953–1954Gitane–Hutchinson
1954Touring
1954Bianchi–Pirelli
1955Van Hauwaert–Maes Pils
1956–1961Faema–Guerra
1962Flandria–Faema–Clément
1963G.B.C.–Libertas
1964–1966Solo–Superia
1967–1970Willem 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)
Medal record
Representing  Belgium
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1952 Helsinki Team road race
Men's road bicycle racing
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1960 Karl Marx Stadt Road race
Gold medal – first place 1961 Bern Road race
Silver medal – second place 1956 Copenhagen Road race
Silver medal – second place 1963 Ronse Road race
Bronze medal – third place 1953 Lugano Amateur's Road Race

CareerEdit

 
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 resultsEdit

1952
National Road Championships
1st   Amateur road race
Olympic Games
1st   Team road race
1953
National Road Championships
1st   Amateur road race
UCI Road World Championships
3rd   Amateur road race
1954
1st Roubaix–Huy
1956
UCI Road World Championships
2nd   Road race
National Road Championships
1st   Belgium Interclubs road race
1st   Overall Tour of the Netherlands
Winner stages 3, 4b and 6
1st Gent–Wevelgem
1st Paris–Brussels
1st Scheldeprijs
1st De Drie Zustersteden
1957
1st   Overall Tour of the Netherlands
Winner stages 2, 3a, 3b and 6a
1st Six Days of Brussels (with Willy Vannitsen)
1st Coppa Bernocchi
1st Gent–Wevelgem
1st Scheldeprijs
1st Schaal Sels-Merksem
3rd Circuit of Houtland
1958
National Road Championships
1st   Road race
1st   Belgium interclubs road race
Vuelta a España:
Winner stages 4, 5b, 6, 9 and 10
Giro di Sardegna
Winner stage 3
Vuelta a Levante
Winner stages 1, 3, 4 and 8
1st Coppa Bernocchi
1st Six Days of Ghent (with Reginald Arnold)
1st Milano-Mantova
1st Milan–San Remo
1st Paris–Brussels
2nd Gent-Wevelgem
2nd Omloop Het Volk
3rd Paris-Roubaix
1959
Giro d'Italia
Winner stages 1, 5, 11 and 14
4th place overall classification
Vuelta a España
Winner stages 1B, 8, 9 and 11
3rd place overall classification
  Winner poins classification
1st   Overall Giro di Sardegna
Winner stages 2, 4 and 6
1st Championship of Flanders – Koolskamp
1st Paris–Tours
1st Tour of Flanders
1st Vuelta a Levante
Winner stages 2, 6, 7
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
1st GP Stad Vilvoorde
1960
UCI Road World Championships
1st   Road race
Giro d'Italia
Winner stages 7B, 8 and 11
4th place overall classification
  Winner mountains classification
1st Six Days of Berlin (with Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Ghent (with Peter Post)
3rd Tour of Flanders
1961
UCI Road World Championships
1st   Road race
Giro d'Italia
Winner stages 13, 15 and 17
7th place overall classification
1st   Overall Tour of Belgium
Winner stages 4a and 4b
Giro di Sardegna
Winner stages 2 and 6
Paris-Nice
Winner stages 7 and 8
1st Paris–Roubaix
1st Liège–Bastogne–Liège
1st Critérium des As
1st Six Days of Antwerp (with Willy Vannitsen & Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Cologne (with Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Brussels (with Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Ghent (with Peter Post)
2nd Milan-San Remo
3rd Super Prestige Pernod
1962
Tour de France
Winner stage 2b
Giro d'Italia
Winner stages 9 and 11
1st   Overall Giro di Sardegna
Winner stages 3 and 5b
Paris-Nice
Winner stages 7b and 9b
1st Gent–Wevelgem
1st Tour of Flanders
1st Paris–Roubaix
1st Grand Prix du Parisien
Tour of Belgium
Winner stages 3 and 4a
1st Six Days of Antwerp (with Oscar Plattner & Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Berlin (with Peter Post)
1st Six Days of Dortmund (with Peter Post)
1963
UCI Road World Championships
2nd   Road race
National Road Championships
1st   Road race
Tour de France
Winner stages 2, 8, 13 and 21
10th place overall classification
  Winner points classification
  Winner combativity award
Giro di Sardegna
Winner stage 4
2nd overall clasification
Paris-Nice
Winner stages 1, 4 and 8
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Winner stages 2 and 5
1st Boucles de l'Aulne
2nd Paris Roubaix
3rd Paris–Nice
1964
1st   Overall Paris–Luxembourg
Winner stage 2
1st Boucles de l'Aulne
Tour of Belgium
Winner stage 4
Vuelta a España
Winner stage 2
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Winner stage 4b
1st E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
2nd Paris–Brussels
2nd Paris–Tours
3rd Gent-Wevelgem
1965
Tour de France:
Winner stages 1 and 19
Vuelta a España
Winner stages 1, 2, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15 and 17
  Winner poins classification
3rd place overall classification
Tour de Luxembourg
Winner stages 1, 2b and 4
1st   Overall Giro di Sardegna
Winner stages 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6
1st E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
1st Paris–Roubaix
1st Sassari-Cagliari
1st Elfstedenronde
Tour du Sud-Est
Winner stage 4b
Tour of Belgium
Winner stage 2
1966
Paris-Nice
Winner stage 4
Tour de Luxembourg
Winner stage 3
Tour of the Netherlands
Winner stage 2
3rd place overall classsification
1st E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
2nd Paris-Tours
3rd Paris-Brussels
1967
Tour de France
Winner stage 5
1st Paris–Tours
Giro di Sardegna
Winner stage 2
Paris-Nice
Winner stage 4
2nd Paris–Roubaix
2nd Circuit of Houtland
1968
1st La Flèche Wallonne
3rd Championship of Flanders
1969
Tour de France:
Winner stage 4
1st E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
1st Six Days of Antwerp (with Peter Post & Patrick Sercu)
1st   Belgium National track madison Championship (with Patrick Sercu)

Awards and honoursEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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.
  3. ^ "Palmarès Rik van Looy".
  4. ^ "Het kon niet anders, na zo'n Tour de France: Wout van Aert winnaar van de Superstrijdlust". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 23 July 2022.
  5. ^ "2017 AIOCC TROPHY".
  6. ^ "All time wins ranking".
  7. ^ "Les meilleurs coureurs de tous les temps (1892-2002)".
  8. ^ "Overall Ranking 1869-2022". Cycling Ranking.
  9. ^ "Ereburgers Grobbendonk".
  10. ^ "Herentals onthult standbeeld voor Rik Van Looy (en Michel Verschueren is erbij)". Sporza (in Dutch). 12 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Grote Prijs Rik Van Looy" (in Dutch).
  12. ^ "Borstbeeld Rik Van Looy onthuld in zijn geboortedorp: "Keizer van Herentals én ereburger van Grobbendonk"". Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). 12 June 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit