Tributes have poured in from across the cycling world for Belgian track cycling legend Patrick Sercu, who died on Friday at the age of 74.
Sercu won 1,206 races on the track and is considered the greatest track cyclist of the past century. He won Olympic gold in the 1km time trial at the 1964 Tokyo Games and won three track world championship titles throughout the sixties.
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His son, Christophe Sercu, explained that “his health had been unstable for several years and had deteriorated sharply in recent weeks. The funeral will take place in a very limited circle.”
The cycling world have been paying tribute to Sercu, with current and ex pros, as well as teams and national cycling federations paying their respects.
Australian former sprinter Robbie McEwen said: “Rest in peace Patrick Sercu. An incredible rider, a great mentor and a wonderful person. My sincere condolences to his family.”
Italian road race champion Elia Viviani said: “Rest in peace Patrick. We will miss you.”
Silvo Martinello, who won the men’s points race at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, tweeted a picture of Sercu, with the caption: “Rest in peace my friend!”
The Belgian Cycling Federation shared a tribute to one of their own, saying: “We are extremely saddened to hear that former Olympic champion and track cycling legend Patrick Sercu has passed away. He will be truly missed but his legacy for Belgium cycling will last forever. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Author and journalist William Fotheringham said: “Unexpected and sad news. Always found Patrick Sercu a real gentleman to deal with” before adding a video showing archive footage during Sercu’s career.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step tweeted: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Patrick Sercu – an amazing man and a true cycling legend – who passed away today. May he rest in peace.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step team director Patrick Lefevere said: “Rip Patrick Sercu you were one of my youth heroes we were from the same #dezilverberg for those who forgot his history look on Wikipedia.”
Silver medalist in the men’s madison at the 2000 Olympics and nephew of Tom Simpson, Matt Gilmore, shared a picture of himself with Sercu, saying: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Patrick Sercu. A man I will forever be indebted to #herosnever die.”
Retired British bike racer Dean Downing said: “Patrick Sercu was a true Six Day legend and so cool when he raced. He was also a great guy. He gave me and Russ Downing a chance to ride Ghent Pro Six Day, we took a kicking the last three days, but he said to us ‘I respect you both for not giving up’. Thank you Patrick.”
After retiring, Sercu served as a director of the Six Days of Ghent, a race he won 11 times, amongst his total 83 Six Day victories, where he often paired with Eddy Mercx.