- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The manager nodded. He told a story for the interpreter to pass on: "The king has one of the bicycles. It is sent to him by Eddy Merckx. One that is used by Eddy Merckx as he wins the 1969 Tour de France. In 1969 he is the first Belgian in 30 years to win the Tour de France, and he is invited to the palace. He wins again in 1970 and again in 1971. When the dignitaries and photographers come to see the king he takes them to his special closet and pulls back the curtain and, Voil�!—The Bicycle. It is white, with Eddy's name and picture on it. The official Eddy Merckx model. We have a contract to make 50,000 to sell in America."
"On Sunday," said the interpreter, "King Baudouin takes the bicycle out and rides on the palace grounds at Lack-en. He also has one of Eddy's yellow shirts from the Tour in 1969."
The interpreter said the king sometimes puts on ordinary street clothes and gets into his Mercedes and sneaks out for a drive alone, and nobody recognizes him. " Eddy Merckx could not do this," he said. "He would cause a mob. The people know Eddy better than they do the king."
"Why is it yellow?" asked the American. His listeners seem confused. "The shirt, I mean."
The manager clucked his tongue reproachfully. His name was Jean Van Buggenhout. Years before he had been a cyclist, too, but now in middle age he had grown gray and portly.
"The yellow shirt, the maillot jaune, is worn by the leader of the Tour as identification," he said. "You do not know about the bicycles, I see."
"I have lived a sheltered life," said the American.
"Then you cannot understand how the people feel," said the interpreter. "Cycling is the, ah, how do you say—"
"—passion of the people."