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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 July, 2003, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Merckx targets Alpine success
By Matt Majendie

Axel Merckx
Merckx wants at least one mountain stage win
Axel Merckx has pledged to outdo his famous father on Sunday by winning at the top of Alpe d'Huez.

Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France five times during his career but failed to triumph on the famous Alpine ascent.

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."

Merckx has enjoyed a best Tour finish of 22nd back in 2001 but believes his chances of improving on that look unlikely.

Having your family around helps you relax off the saddle
Axel Merckx

He added: "My goals this year are simple - try to get as far as I can and win a stage in the process. My general classification ambitions are over for good now.

"Unlike my dad, the GC has never really been one for me - my time trialling simply isn't good enough."

The Lotto-Domo rider is being followed throughout the route by wife Jodi and daughter Axana.

And he believes the family support could provide him with his first opportunity of a stage win.

He said: "Having your family around helps you relax off the saddle and it also strives you on during the tougher parts of the day.

"And I guess it helps to an extent that its the centenary year of the race.

"You try and block out the fact that you're part of history but you cannot help but get caught up in it a little bit."





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