Puncture ruins Merlier’s chances Saturday afternoon
One of the most in-form sprinters of the season, Tim Merlier started this year’s edition of Heistse Pijl as one of the favourites, supported by a strong Soudal Quick-Step squad which moved to the front of the peloton minutes after the flag was waved to control the gap of the escapees. Five riders jumped from the bunch and put around six minutes between them and the field, but a coalition of sprinters’ teams easily kept the gap in check and reeled them in with more than twenty kilometers to go.
The local laps in Heist-op-den-Berg featured a 400m climb averaging 5.2%, but that couldn’t prevent the race from coming down to a bunch gallop. Unfortunately, Tim Merlier wasn’t there, after a flat tire just before the flamme rouge put an end to the Belgian Champion’s hopes. The win went to Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma), while Bert Van Lerberghe was our team’s top finisher, in a strong fourth place.
Our Belgian weekend continues Sunday with one of the country’s oldest one-day races, Brussels Cycling Classic, which will see the peloton take on the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg.
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images