The Belgian took his 12th podium of the year on home soil.
Tim Merlier was maybe the fastest sprinter in the final meters of the opening stage, but despite the incredible power he unleashed, the Belgian Champion missed out on what would have been his ninth victory of the season after running out of road in Ardooie.
Despite being completely flat, the 182.9km stage was a nervous one, and it came as no surprise that multiple crashes occurred on the last of the three local circuits that the peloton had to tackle. Fortunately, none of our riders was involved in these incidents, and with the help of his Soudal Quick-Step teammates, Merlier remained well positioned at the front and could contest the bunch sprint.
“The finale was very hectic, which was normal given that all the sprinters were quite fresh. The squad did a very good job and worked hard the entire day but at the end you get punished for the small mistakes. Despite this, the morale is strong and I’m already looking forward to Saturday, when we hope to have another mass gallop”, Tim explained after the stage.
It was a tricky finale also for Yves Lampaert. The Belgian, who last Sunday came so close to winning the Bemer Cyclassics, punctured with ten kilometers to go, but thanks to some fierce chasing, he made it back in the group just in time and made sure of not losing any valuable seconds ahead of the very important individual time trial in Sluis.
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