Axel Merckx will retire on Monday

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03.08.2007/ Axel Merckx will retire on Monday, his final race will be a criterium in the Belgian city of Lommel. The T-Mobile rider, who will celebrate his 35th birthday on Wednesday, will move to Kelowna, about 400 kilometers east of Vancouver, Canada. 

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Axel Merckx during the prologue of this years Tour de France (picture: Cyclingheroes)

Axel Merckx was asked by Belgian website what his coming retirement means to him. Merckx said: "Actually not a lot. I am pretty tired after three weeks Tour de France."

Axel told that he isn't really training anymore, he rides his bike for about 2 hours a day.

The son of ... is known by his own name Axel now. hat does that mean to him? "It's one of my biggest achievements really. I get respected as a rider but also as a person. How often did I use to hear that I had it easy with a father like that. I was riding with a sticker on my back: son of..." Merckx continued by saying: "Ofcourse its true that my fahter teatched me perfectly and that I could start right away at telekom. At that time not a top team but a very good team. But I could not benefit from my name for 14 years! Once a pro I had to do it myself. Our house in Canada I earned on my own."

Axel Merkx was Belgian national road champion, won a stage at the Giro d'Italia and he won a bronse medal at the Olympics. What was his most beautiful moment? Merckx said: "Maybe my fourth place at the 1996 world championships in Lugano, when Johan Museeuw conquered the rainbow jersey. I had the feeling that I did my share to that succes. Johan repeatedly confirmed that. It meant a lot for a small rider of 24 years old. I was feeling so starong that day. I did not had a lot of days like that later."

You are retiring from T-Mobile which is in crisis. Last year you were teammate of Floyd Landis... Merckx answered: "I am affraid that there is some serious dust on our pricemoney [from the 2006 Tour] en that the proceedings will take time. And then the latest Tour... Fun is something else. Sinkewitz made a mistake were he has to bear the consequenses. As a team we had nothing to do with it, although the atmosphere was pretty difficult on some moments. Especailly for my German teammates who received the full programm. German media were leaving me pretty much alone. The only thing I could do is to support my younger teammates."

Is cycling doing better as at the beginning of your career? Merckx said: "There are much more controls. You need a lot of guts to risk doing crazy stuff. It's kamikaze. The bad news of the latest Tour is good news for the future."

Merckx did not want to have a farewell crit. merckx said: "They can give me flowers and say thanks for my career, but they shouldn't make to much compliments. I can't help it but that's how I am. For me it can stay as normal as possible."

Asked what he wants to do in Canada after his retirement, Merckx said: "I really don't know. I will think about it by the end of the year. Fortunally I have that luxury: It doesn't have to be immediatly. It's possible that I will return in the world of cycling, if there are interesting challenges. Thze American Slipstream team already asked to do something for them in North-American races. But after that I never heard something about that anymore. Like I said: I am not in a hurry."

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