The Tour victory of Eddy Merckx in 1969 inspires the Walloon Pierre Neuville to create a cycling game around the Tour winner. After four months of work Neuville finalises his creation. Fourteen days after the birth of Sabrina, Merckx's first child (February 1970), the inventor was allowed to visit Eddy and received permission to use the name Eddy Merckx. After Merckx's second victory in the Tour de France, Pierre is once again invited to the home of the Tour winner. In the company of the press, both gentlemen present the game - the photo is used afterwards in the second version of the 'Jeu Eddy Merckx'. Neuville: "La vente bat tous les records d'un jeu de société." [transl. "Sales break all records for board games."]
To make the game even more popular, Neuville has a more compact version made in a run of 50,000 copies. The miniature racers are no longer hand-painted - according to Neuville made by inmates in Belgian prisons - but made of plastic. That way, the price could be reduced from 495 Belgian francs to 299. A successful move, according to Neuville: "Toute la Belgique se passione pour le jeu Eddy Merckx qui s'avère original, très amusant et palpitant à jouer. Encore aujourd'hui je reçois de très nombreux messages 'j'y ai joué toute ma jeunesse avec mon père, mon grand-père... que de beaux souvenirs'." [transl. "The whole of Belgium is passionate about the Eddy Merckx game, which is original, very fun and exciting to play. I still get a lot of messages saying 'I played it when I was young with my father and grandfather... great memories'."]
In 2018, Neuville is primarily known as an eminent poker player. He has been out of the gaming sector for twenty years. However, in anticipation of the start of the Tour in Brussels, he has ventured into a fourth, revised version of the game. The principle and rules of the game remain unchanged. The game board itself does undergo a make-over. The Alouette helicopter, dam and apartment buildings make place for the Royal Palace, the Atomium and the Grand Place of Brussels. So 50 years after the birth of the first version, a new up-to-date version is available, as a tribute to Eddy.
The Eddy Merckx game is obviously not the only board game inspired by cycling. Antwerp resident Ludo Nauws spent more than thirty years building up his own collection of cycling games. In total, his collection consisted of more than 200 different games from Belgium and abroad. The very first one he managed to weave together was, by the way, the Eddy Merckx game. At the end of 2018, the entire collection moved to KOERS. Museum of Cycling. We show a selection of Tour games from Nauws' collection. For a complete overview please visit wielerbordspellen.be.