Luis Ocaña vs. Eddy Merckx

Here’s a video documentary from last night’s Informe Robinson show in Spain about Luis Ocaña, the 1973 Tour de France winner. It’s a Spanish production but with a lot of French audio thanks to interviews with Eddy Merckx, Johny Schleck and Ocaña’s French widow. Without subtitles it’s obviously not for everyone but if you’re patient you’ll find rich archive of video, photo and more in a slick package.

It’s also the chance for a book giveaway, with a free copy of Daniel Friebe’s excellent Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal book.

Loyal readers might remember the excellent David Millar documentary from the same show. Now it’s time to go further back and the story of Luis Ocaña. A rival to Eddy Merckx, Ocaña was arguably the only rider capable of challenging The Cannibal but for all his raw power and panache there was a weakness Merckx could exploit – Ocaña’s impulsive mind.

Their rivalry reached feverish levels in the 1971 Tour de France with the back-to-back stages to the ski station of Orcières Merlette and then to Marseille. It marked Ocaña so much that he later named his home Orcières Merlette. His tale is special and the well-produced documentary explains plenty and is well-produced too.

“to speak of Merckx without mentioning of Ocaña is like talking about the sun without a word about the shadow it casts”
Born to Climb – L’ (English article)

The documentary is worth watching and there’s a new biography on Ocaña, Reckless by Alasdair Fotheringham out in May. For now as a bonus the film a good excuse to give away a great read. Along with the review copy of “At Speed” by Mark Cavendish came “Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal” by Daniel Friebe … but it’s been read, enjoyed and reviewed already so here’s pristine paperback to give away.

Quiz: What was Ocaña’s first name?

Rules: post your answer in the comments section, please don’t email or tweet. In the possible event of a tie the names will get posted into a spreadsheet and a random function used to pick the winner.

Feel free to use a pseudonym and you don’t have to leave your email in the field before leaving the answer. I’ll send the book airmail to anywhere on the planet. I’ll pick the winner on Friday at midday.

Note the documentary code can be copied and pasted so if you want to share it, save it and more, make use of it.

143 thoughts on “Luis Ocaña vs. Eddy Merckx”

  1. Matt Rendell refers to him as Jesus Luis Ocana Pernia, in the The Death of Marco Pantani when discussing the minutes silence at the Giro.

    Alasdair Fotheringham is releasing a book this year called – Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocana, should be a good read.

  2. Jesús Luis Ocaña Pernía is his full name. Many Spanish children are christened “Maria” and “Jesus” first followed by a given name e.g. Maria del Carmen, Marie Jose etc and are referred to in normal everyday life by their second name as is the the case with Luis Ocaña. So technically, Jesus is his first name but is universally referred to as Luis.

  3. This is nice and timely.

    I am a big fan of Ocaña (Jesus Luis, as many have indicated above) and I’ve recently been reading “Ocaña” by Spanish journalist Carlos Arribas. I was really looking forward to it, but it’s a huge disappointment, I’m afraid: Arribas is perhaps Spain’s best-known cycling reporter and I find his style “infumable”. He’s adorned the facts of Ocaña’s life with page upon page of invented, barroque dialogue which he believes “may” represent the spirit of the conversations held between Ocaña and his managers, wife, friends, journalists, team mates and just about anybody else he thinks Ocaña may have come across. It’s a trick that might have worked in another writer’s hands, but I find it mind-numbingly boring :(.

    A shame, as Ocaña has a very interesting story.

    So it’s great to see Michael Robinson’s documentary about this great cyclist and intriguing personality and to see that Fotheringham is to publish a biography.

    For those who really have it bad, here’s a video of a documentary about Ocaña screened last year on Spanish TV. It may be hard going for those who don’t understand Spanish, but it has some fine footage of Ocaña going about his business on his bike.

  4. I’d really like to win this one… But it will largely depend on your definition of “first name”.

    1) If you use the Merriam-Webster definition “the name that stands first in one’s full name”, then it is Jesús.
    2) If you use the Oxford definition “a personal name given to someone at birth or baptism and used before a family name”, then it is Jesús Luis.

    Actually, if you stand by the expression “being on first-name terms”, Ocaña was nothing else than Luis.

  5. Already have and have already read this book – highly recommended, perhaps the best of the English language (including translations) books I’ve read on Eddy. …and we have a few of ’em here in the CycleItalia library!

  6. You’re all wrong.

    It’s a little known fact that the rider in question was actually born in Mayo, in the west of Ireland.
    He rode for Westport Wheelers as a youth, and was immediately successful, ellicting cries of “Jaysus, he’s good in the hills”.

    Following a package holiday to Toremelinos in 1967, he then got his spot with Fagor, and the rest is well known. He took the Hispanic name Jesús Luis Ocaña Pernía, however his real name is …
    Louis O’Connor.

    If you don’t believe me, see this video of the 1971 Tour de France.

    I’ll get my casquette…

  7. The winner is…. Jeremy.

    Please email me with an address and I’ll send the book off soon.

    I hoped the references to Luis Ocana would trick more people but it didn’t last long. Anyway, the point was to show the documentary and I hope enough people enjoyed it.

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