Merckx: Evans, Wiggins and Nibali favourites for Tour de France

Valverde and Fränk Schleck possibly contenders, too, says legendary Belgian

Five-time Tour de France champion and legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx has appointed his favourites for the 2012 Tour overall victory. "Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali" have the greatest chances of success, according to the Belgian, who was interviewed by Le Parisien newspaper. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck could also move into "the circle of contenders".

Nevertheless, the 'Cannibal' insisted that "the strongest rider is Alberto Contador, and he will not be there."

Merckx was also questioned as to his view on the investigation launched by American Anti-Doping Agency USADA into alleged former doping practices by Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel. The 67-year-old is known to have a good relationship with both, stating, "This case is going a bit far. It's excessive. That it's opened after a federal investigation commission already closed the case, seems too much to me."

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