Jos Bruyère, the cyclist who got fat on the Tour

The Belgian was Merckx's lieutenant for eight years. He made his debut on the Tour in 1970, at the age of 21, and by the end of the race he had put on a kilo.


One Sunday morning in 1961, when Joseph Bruyère was not yet 13 years old, his father took him to a Liège market known as La Batte, El Murcielago, to buy him a racing bike as a reward for his good performance in school. At that time he still couldn't imagine that it was going to become his work tool. It was after military service that he had to make a decision in that regard. With his sick father, his family penniless, and his mother dedicated to cleaning, he had to prove that he could earn a living from cycling. And he did so by adding 17 victories in fans, which earned him an offer from Faema, Eddy Merckx's team, of whom he was going to become his inseparable gregarious.

Jos Bruyère made his Tour debut in 1970, aged 21, and by the time he finished the race, which Merckx conquered of course, he had put on a kilogram. "While the rest of the cyclists lost weight, I gained weight, which I took as unequivocal proof that I could with the Tour de France", deduced the Belgian, who did not hide his taste for food: "I was always eating. first on the table and I would get up last ".

Bruyère raced for eight years with Merckx and participated six times in the Tour, where he also enjoyed individual prominence. In 1972 he won a stage at Versailles, when he was a blotter in a fugue, and in 1974 he wore yellow for three days, in the same functions. Merckx had won the prologue at Brest, with his third lieutenant. The next day, Bruyère got into a cut and took the lead. "I would have preferred the stage," said the Walloon, who had been overtaken by Ercole Gualazzini. "I don't feel like fighting everyone like Eddy does."The year he did beat was 1978, when he was the leader for eight days. Bruyère wore yellow in a time trial between Saint Émilion and Sainte Foy la Grande, which Bernard Hinault won, with Merckx supporting his colleague from the C&A director's car, and releasing it at Alpe d'Huez. The general finished fourth. Bruyère also won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege twice and the Het Volk three times. He had his moments of glory, although almost all with Merckx. "We were the best friends in the world."

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