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Video: Merckx talks about coming to the Tour Down Under in 2012

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Eddy Merckx was on hand to congratulate Andy Schleck.

Eddy Merckx was on hand to congratulate Andy Schleck. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Eddy 'The Cannibal' Merckx riding back in his prime.

Eddy 'The Cannibal' Merckx riding back in his prime. (Image credit: Graham Watson)

Belgian icon Eddy Merckx will attend the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under as a special guest of the race organisation. Merckx will be joined by Patrick Sercu, a legend in his own right, with the two set to attend the full week of racing as well as the annual ‘Legends’ Night Dinner.

The Tour Down Under was the first WorldTour event to take place outside of Europe and has attracted a number of big names in the past including Tour winners Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong. Organisers are hopeful that Merckx, arguably the biggest identity in professional cycling, will help make the 2012 edition bigger than ever.

"We’ve spoken to Eddy a number of times in the past few years and it never worked out," said Race Director Mike Turtur to Cyclingnews. "In 2012 we approached him to come out with Patrick Sercu, a great friend of his, and he agreed."

"I think it’s going to be terrific for people in Australia to have a chance to meet Eddy, to sit down with him while he’s in Adelaide. For me personally and the race I think it’s a big honour and I think it’ll be a big success."

For his part Merckx is looking forward to visiting South Australia for the first time.

"I’ve heard it’s [the Santos Tour Down Under] amazing, [there are] a lot of people there, they like very much their cycling and also the weather is very nice," Merckx said.

The presence of the two cycling greats adds to the announcement on Wednesday by the UCI that the race will continue to be a WorldTour event until at least 2015.

For the full interview with Merckx watch the video below.

Video credit - Tour Down Under