René Dillen is a former professional racing cyclist with a career from 1973 to 1980. He rode for, among others, the French teams ‘Sonolor’, ‘Gitane-Campagnolo’ and ‘Lejeune-BP’, the Belgian ‘C&A’ team and, in his final year, for the Spanish ‘KAS-Campagnolo’ team.
René rode his first professional race in his birthplace, Wilrijk. He saw Merckx speed ahead, but he did not dare overtake him, because that simply was not done. During the competition he also gave his flask of beer to Merckx, because back in those days it was still drunk during the race. He regretted it afterwards, because Merckx later had a flat tyre.
René also rode in the Tour de France five times. As a team mate of Lucien Van Impe he helped his leader to win the tour in 1976. He will always remember that tour and the audience he and the Tour winner Van Impe had with King Baudouin.
René Dillen himself won stages in, among others, the Tour of Normandy, the Tour of Switzerland, the Dauphiné, the Dunkirk 4-day race and the Midi Libre.
In 1978 he was a team-mate of Lucien Van Impe and Eddy Merckx in the C&A team. In that year Eddy Merckx was 7th or 8th in the Omloop van het Waasland. Dillen came 4th. After this race, Merckx announced that this was his last official race.