By Susan Westemeyer
"I think it is kind of funny that I end up back with T-Mobile at the end of my career. It feels like I have come full circle in my 13 years as a professional," said Axel Merckx in an interview with www.t-mobile-team.com. The Phonak rider has signed a one-year contract with T-Mobile, the team with which he also signed his first professional contract.
Merckx had intended to end his career with Phonak, but when the team folded in light of the Floyd Landis doping scandal, he decided to continue. He decided to return to the German team because "The team concept and management's clean and hard line [on doping] convinced me that it was the right team. I still believe I can make a positive sporting contribution and am willing to do the hard work." He added, "I hope to be a great benefit to the team on and off the bike. I will support the young riders if they want to use it."
The Belgian rider has his eye set on the spring classics. "I won't start those races as the only captain. The team will come first. The goal is to produce a winner from among our ranks. And that doesn't necessarily have to be Axel Merckx," he continued. But Merckx would particularly like to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "I love this race and this part of Belgium; it would be incredible to win there once!"
For more on Merckx's new team, read Cyclingnews' feature T-Mobile: "Do it right or don't do it at all"