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VIDEO. After fans in the desert, Tim Merlier (for his son’s birthday) sprints unsustainably to victory in the AlUla Tour

VIDEO. After fans in the desert, Tim Merlier (for his son’s birthday) sprints unsustainably to victory in the AlUla Tour
VIDEO. After fans in the desert, Tim Merlier (for his son’s birthday) sprints unsustainably to victory in the AlUla Tour
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The 170 kilometer stage with start at AlUla airport and arrival at a camel race track was marked by fans. The first time halfway through the race, the second time at the end of the stage, which completely exploded the peloton. The biggest victims were the Norwegian classification leader Soren Waerenskjold, who had to give up his green leader’s jersey due to equipment failure, and the sick Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen.

Soudal Quick-Step was strongly represented in the first group, and with Jordi Warlop neutralized the various attack attempts in the final kilometers.

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It was almost 30 kilometers of flames to the finish on the AlUla Camel Cup Track. Merlier clearly still had something left and easily achieved the bunch sprint, even on the first birthday of his son Jules. Good for the second victory in 2024 for Patrick Lefevere’s troops. Arvid de Kleijn and Casper van Uden sprinted to places two and three. The latter is again the leader, after previously winning the first stage.

In the general classification, Merlier climbs to second place, two seconds behind the new leader. The AlUla Tour lasts until Saturday. Friday’s fourth stage seems to be another opportunity for the sprinters, the toughest stage only comes on the final day.

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First birthday Jules

After a podium finish in the first stage and a failed sprint in stage two, Tim Merlier scored on the third attempt and thus opens his account for the new season. And on a very special day. “I was very motivated and didn’t want to make a mistake this time to win for my son’s birthday,” says Merlier.

When the decisive fan was formed, Merlier sat where he was supposed to sit. “We had to watch out for fans all day and the last one was the right one. The finish was quite special, a bit uphill and in some parts the wind was blowing strongly. Everything has to go well in such a sprint. I’m glad I did the right things today. We made some mistakes on previous rides, but we continued to believe in it. Then there will come a time when everything will turn out well. That was the case. Winning is always nice and especially on a day like today. With the team we were well at the front all day. Also our classification rider (Lecerf, ed.) was in the right range this time, so the team is still safe for the battle for the final victory.”

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Tears at Vangheluwe

One of the helpers to whom Merlier owed his victory was Warre Vangheluwe (22). The neo-pro, who himself won last year in Gullegem Koerse, did his bit for his leader. “This is even better than winning Gullegem,” says Vangheluwe. “Fans were predicted and we had to go along with Tim, Bert, Jordi, William and myself and we all succeeded. It was a race like from the books. I want to take off my glasses, but underneath I have tears in my eyes. This is what I dreamed of all winter, to be part of the winning team. The first two rides did not go as they should, but this time it went smoothly. I am happy that I was able to capitalize on the trust Tim has in me.”

Warre Vangheluwe. — © Getty Images

The article is in Dutch

Tags: VIDEO fans desert Tim Merlier sons birthday sprints unsustainably victory AlUla Tour

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