The Belgian took a convincing victory after overcoming a late puncture.
Soudal Quick-Step made it two for two in Okolo Slovenska. After Rémi Cavagna soloed to victory Wednesday, twenty-four hours later it was Tim Merlier’s turn to take center stage at the end of the race’s shortest day, only 147 kilometers from Presov to Poprad, over a hilly parcours.
One of the team’s most prolific riders this season, the two-time Belgian Champion reached ten victories in a season for the first time in his career, and he did it after another powerful sprint that left the others fighting for the minor placings. On the podium, where he received the winner’s trophy, Tim was accompanied by Rémi, who retained the yellow jersey, which he has a strong chance of bringing home thanks to the considerable buffer he continues to have in the general classification.
“At first, I thought it was going to be difficult, as I had a flat tire with 50 kilometers to go, and this came after a rainy and full gas opening hour, which clearly didn’t make things easy. Fortunately, we have two great guys – Tim and Josef – who did a great job closing the gap and bringing back the five escapees, without any help whatsoever from the other squads.”
“I’m happy that I still had the legs to pull it off after such a hard day. I’m also delighted that I could celebrate my tenth victory of the season; it’s a nice milestone for my first year with the Wolfpack, and if it’s possible between now and the end of the season, I will try to add to this number”, said Tim after scoring Soudal Quick-Step’s 48th victory of the year.
Photo credit: ©Sona Nikova