Rik Van Steenbergen was an accomplished Belgian professional cyclist cut from the classic hardman mold. He celebrated wins in the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix (where he won with a record setting average speed, completing the 246km course at the average of 43 km per hour), La Flèche Wallonne, and Milan-San Remo. At over 6 feet tall and 180 pounds Rik was a powerful rider that excelled in sprints and one day classics. Though that is not to say he was not a versatile rider, with his second place finish to Fiorenzo Marni in the Giro d’Italia as evidence. He was also an accomplished track rider with forty Six-day wins to his name, a feet unprecedented in todays modern peloton.
In 1966 Van Steenbergen decided to retire from professional sporting life. This image captures one of his final six-day race appearances. The symbolic and yet very real passing of the torch to the rising talent that was one Eddy Merckx.?
Many thanks to Ray at On the Back Foot. Ray will be contributing to our hero posts and has an awesome Instagram feed of cycling heroes which is really worth following. instagram.com/onthebackfoot/