Our team sits on 36 victories since the start of the season.
Tim Merlier capped off a memorable Saturday afternoon for Soudal Quick-Step, powering to his first victory in the regular team kit at the Tour de Pologne, which got underway with a flat stage that became chaotic in the closing kilometers due to the weather.
Our squad moved to the front of the peloton as soon as a breakaway formed, keen on not missing out on the opportunity of a first bunch sprint. Josef Cerny did a great job together with delegates of other teams, bringing back the attackers more than 50 kilometers from the finish in Poznan, which took place on the city’s race track.
Unfortunately for the peloton, the rain complicated matters in the closing part of the 183.7km stage, and several riders hit the ground as the bunch was preparing for a mass gallop. Among those involved were also Soudal Quick-Step’s Mattia Cattaneo and Ilan Van Wilder, but luckily they escaped without any serious consequences and will continue the race.
In the final kilometer, Bert Van Lerberghe did a perfect lead-out for Tim Merlier, who blasted past all his opponents and comfortably took his seventh victory of the season, one which came with several trips to the podium, where he collected the race’s first yellow jersey, the points jersey and the prize for the best team of the stage, together with Josef and Louis Vervaeke.
“It’s my first race since a team training camp in Val di Fassa and I came here with good legs, so showing this on the first day makes me happy. The finale was a bit hectic, but I managed to remain well placed thanks to my teammates. We went first in the last corner, Bert launched me and I could keep the speed until the line”, Tim said after bringing Soudal Quick-Step’s 36th victory of the season. “It’s a great day for the team, with two World Tour wins, and we hope we will continue getting good results here after this excellent start.”
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images