The Belgian Champion finished runner-up on home turf.
Tim Merlier came close to his second victory in the space of a week, following the one he got on the final stage of the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. The 30-year-old pinned on a number again just six days after that success for the Van Merksteijn Fences Classic, the race formerly known as the Marcel Kint Classic, which took place Saturday afternoon over a flat 200km course between Kotrijk and Zwevegem.
Supported by a strong squad, featuring trusted lead-out man Bert Van Lerberghe and three riders that came across from the Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team, Merlier was protected throughout the day by his teammates, who worked hard to bring back the escapees, in the end making the catch with four kilometers to go. The Belgian Champion pounced just 150 meters from the line and produced a powerful sprint that almost netted him his eighth win of the season, only half a wheel separating him from Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Dstny).
“The guys did a great job today and made sure to put me in a perfect position going into the last kilometer. The finish was slightly downhill and I couldn’t just hold it as Caleb, who is a very fast sprinter, came from behind. Maybe I just didn’t have the top speed, but I remain confident for Monday’s race, where we’ll look to be again up there”, an upbeat Tim said.
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