By Shane Stokes
Eddy Merckx was regarded as a cannibal on the bike, but the Belgian appears to be a shark off it. He stands to make a killing at the bookies after a confident flutter on Phonak rider Floyd Landis looks to have paid off.
Merckx has close ties to the team due to the fact that his son Axel Merckx races in their colours and also because the five-time Tour winner raced during his career (and worked after it) with the father of John Lelangue, who is currently Phonak's manager.
The American's team-mate Robert Hunter talked about the bet, which was placed after Landis dropped way out of the reckoning on Wednesday.
"Here is a funny story," he wrote on his website www.robbiehunter.net. "Eddy Merckx has spent a bit of time with us over the past weeks because of his attachment to the team. Today we found out that last night after Floyd lost the jersey and 8 minutes to the leader, he [Eddy] went to the bookies in Belgium and bet 100 euro that Floyd would win the Tour anyways. The odds were 75 to 1 and he is laughing so hard, now that the possibility is really there. The way Floyd raced today [Thursday's 17th stage] was like the way Eddy used to race in the old days; he said it was the best race he has seen!"
Although he will be part of the team celebrations in Paris, Hunter will miss out on finishing the Tour. He unfortunately finished outside the time limit on Saturday's penultimate stage after a saddle sore prevented him from riding in the saddle.