Tim Merlier confirmed he is one of the fastest riders in the peloton, dashing to victory – his first on the road in the Soudal Quick-Step jersey – on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman, which incidentally was the sprinters’ only opportunity to leave their mark at this edition.
Benefitting from a fast and furious lead-out train consisting of Jordi Warlop and Bert Van Lerberghe, the 30-year-old, who was victorious in the Zonnebeke cyclo-cross earlier this season, emerged at the front of the peloton only with the finish line in sight, and despite kicking out with around 200 meters to go, he gave absolutely no chance to his opponents, who were left fighting for the minor places on the podium.
The huge burst of speed he produced in the stage 1 finale allowed Tim to sit up and celebrate before crossing the line, as he dedicated his win to his new-born son, Jules. This success moved Soudal Quick-Step closer to its 900th victory, only two more wins separating the Wolfpack from this astonishing milestone.
“I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been a father for almost two weeks now, and this is what makes today’s result so special. This victory is for my son. Ok, I had already won that cyclo-cross race last month, but I was really eager to experience this feeling as fast as possible on the road, and I’m delighted that I did it here, in my very first stage race with the team.”
“In the closing kilometers, I lost the guys a bit, but I could come back, and it was quite easy to follow Bert from that moment on. Then, in the sprint, I went a bit too early, but I had what it took to keep the speed, and this gives me a lot of confidence for the future”, Tim said after scoring Soudal Quick-Step’s 66th win in the Middle East.