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Merckx: I would have loved to race in this Tour de France

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Belgian Eddy Merckx celebrates winning his fifth Tour de France

Belgian Eddy Merckx celebrates winning his fifth Tour de France
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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A reminder that Eddy Merckx once made this climb his own

A reminder that Eddy Merckx once made this climb his own
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Eddy Merckx at the start

Eddy Merckx at the start
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Eddy Merckx and ASO director Christian Prudhomme

Eddy Merckx and ASO director Christian Prudhomme
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Belgian Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour de France, raises his arm thinking he has beaten Frenchman Cyrille Guimard (L) to the finish line of the 15th stage between Aix-les-Bains and Mont Revard. The jury decided otherwise and awarded the victory to Guimard, Belgian Lucien Van Impe (R) finishing third.

Belgian Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey as leader of the Tour de France, raises his arm thinking he has beaten Frenchman Cyrille Guimard (L) to the finish line of the 15th stage between Aix-les-Bains and Mont Revard. The jury decided otherwise and awarded the victory to Guimard, Belgian Lucien Van Impe (R) finishing third.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)

When Cyclingnews asked Eddy Merckx if he would have loved to race the cobbled stage of this year's Tour de France, his smile said it all.

"Absolutely, yeah, I would have loved to race out there on the cobblestone in this Tour de France," the Cannibal told Cyclingnews, with a grin that clearly explained why he earned him the nickname of the Cannibal.

Merckx won Paris-Roubaix three times in 1968, 1970 and 1973 and the Tour de France five times in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974.

He would no doubt have ridden like Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), attacking his rivals on the cobbles and gaining time in extreme conditions while most of the peloton suffered and hoped to finish the stage in piece.

"It was an incredible, an amazing day, with all the cobbles and the rain. It's a pity what happen to Chris Froome but that's life," he said of the incredible day of racing.

"It was unbelievable what Nibali did today on the cobblestones. He was very good."

Nibali leads his big-name overall Tour de France rivals by close to two minutes. Merckx knows what is needed to win the Tour de France but he also knows that the yellow jersey is only won when the Tour de France ends in Paris.

"It's too early to say if he's going to win the Tour de France, it's too early for that. But what he did was very impressive. It's going to be a great Tour de France now."