Tim Merlier will lead our squad on home soil this week.

The only team to have won Nokere Koerse four times this century, Soudal Quick-Step will be in action this Wednesday at the Belgian one-day race, which will once again revolve around the Nokereberg. The short but demanding hill will feature several times on the route of the 76th edition (189.8km), and is also where the race will conclude, but until then the peloton is set to tackle several hurdles, in the form of the Wolvenberg, Petegemberg, Tiegemberg or Lange Ast, to name just a few.

Two days later, Bredene Koksijde Classic (200.9km) awaits with a combination of cobbled hills – including the iconic Kemmelberg – pavé stretches and narrow roads. To add to these, strong winds could once again make an appearance, as was the case back in 2021, and spread chaos in the bunch, changing the whole dynamic of the race and bringing more riders, not just the sprinters, in contention.

The most successful sprinter of the season so far, with four wins – three of them in the World Tour – under his belt, Belgian Champion Tim Merlier will pin on a number for the two races, part of a team that will include also Josef Cerny, Jannik Steimle, Martin Svrcek, Bert Van Lerberghe, Stan Van Tricht and Ethan Vernon, another Soudal Quick-Step rider who has scored multiple victories this year.

“Nokere Koerse is the same as last year, so there are no surprises. We are going to the start with a strong and motivated squad, featuring defending champion Tim Merlier, who knows the course, as he lives around 15 kilometers from there. It should come down to a bunch sprint, but the weather could change everything, especially as we have a total of 25 kilometers of cobbles on the menu”, explained sports director Iljo Keisse. “In Bredene, the tricky part could be the second part of the race, and that’s because we could have some strong winds and even some rain, but the team is a solid one, can control the race and is ready to give out everything.”


Photo credit: ©Alex Broadway / Getty Images

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