Tim Merlier came out on top at the AlUla Tour after an exciting and action-packed stage 3, battered by crosswinds and broken into echelons inside the final hour, once a left-hand turn opened the way to pure chaos on the road.
Racing in the wind is a Soudal Quick-Step specialty, and our team rode flawlessly when the peloton got split in the last 30 kilometers of the stage that concluded on the Camel Cup Track. Five of the team’s riders made the cut, and those numbers helped the leading group’s buffer reach almost a minute in the blink of an eye, as well keeping things together in the hectic closing kilometers, when it poured with attacks.
After neo-pro Warre Vangheluwe shut down all those dangerous moves and Bert Van Lerberghe did a sensational job in bringing Merlier at the front of the group, no one could match the two-time Belgian Champion’s acceleration when he went with 250 meters to go, capturing his 12th victory in the Soudal Quick-Step jersey.
“It was a typical Belgian day with the echelons and the low temperatures, but thanks to the echelons it became warmer out there. I was very motivated at the start of the stage because today is my son’s birthday, and I wanted this win for him”, Merlier explained. “It was crazy fast on those open roads, and then in the sprint, which was slightly uphill, everything needed to be in the right place, but with the help of the team who did an extraordinary job, I nailed it. Winning early in the season is always good for the confidence, and I’m delighted I could do that in just my third day of racing this year.”