The mercurial Freddy Maertens. One season he could notch up 50 wins, the next would see him struggle to even finish races. His career might have been unpredictable but his riding style wasn’t – he was always aggressive. Famous for churning a big 53×13 gear, he was a talented time trialist and possessed a powerful sprint, which saw him winning the Tour de France Points jersey three times and an amazing 13 stages at the 1977 Vuelta a Espana. Needless to say, he won the overall title and the points jersey.
After many seasons at the famous and powerful Belgian Flandria squad, Maertens moved to Italy in 1980 to ride for the San Giacomo team. Unfortunately for Parentini, who supplied the squad with their kit for the season, 1980 was to be one of Maerten’s barren years. Nevertheless, his experience and roadcraft would prove beneficial to the younger riders in the team like Moreno Argentin and Roberto Visentini.
Maerten’s palmares and life story deserve a good look. His autobiography “Fall from Grace” is a very good read, if you can find a copy. A Flandrian by birth, Maertens now works at the Tour of Flanders Museum in Oudenaarde, where I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago.