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July 13, 2003

Ironic story du jour: Merckx targets Alpine success

Axel Merckx is the son of legendary racer Eddy Merckx, probably the greatest cyclist of all time (5 Tours, including one in which he won 8 stages). Axel told BBC Sport his goal was to win today's stage:

Merckx Jnr, however, insists he has the ability to take arguably the Tour's toughest stage prize.

He told the BBC Sport website: "Obviously because of my riding style, the mountain stages suit me a great deal but there's one that sticks more in the mind than the others.

"The dream is to win Alpe d'Huez and it remains this year's goal, but you just have to play these things by ear.

"My form has not been too bad so far and I'm getting increasingly near peak condition. I'll see how I feel on the morning of Alpe d'Huez and take it from there.

"Sadly, there'll be a lot of guys thinking the same thing."

Apparently some of those guys showed up today: Merckx was struggling behind the gruppetto (the laughing group, a group of riders working together just to escape elimination) today even before the climb to l'Alpe d'Huez started. Update: He eventually finished within the grupetto, which came in at 42:19.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 13, 2003 in Rider profiles | Permalink