Tim Merlier claims Belgian road race title

Cyclo-cross specialist gets the better of Dupont and Van Aert in sprint finish

The 224km-long flat course for the Belgian men's road race championship resulted in what was to be expected - a bunch sprint - and Tim Merlier (Corendon-Circus) claimed victory ahead of Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

"In the sprint the team was able to deliver me in a perfect position," Merlier told Sporza in the post-race flash interview.

"I started my sprint from the wheel of [Edward] Theuns but when I launched my sprint I panicked a little and kept my legs still for a moment. Then I told myself to lean forward and I was able to hold it until the line. It’s unbelievable."

Only two weeks ago, Merlier was signed by Corendon-Circus to race on the road this summer. In cyclo-cross, he is racing for the Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice team. Last week, the 26-year-old already showed off his fast legs with a surprise sprint victory over Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the Elfstedenronde.

Once again, a cyclo-cross rider turns out to be a top-class road cyclist. Merlier was asked the obvious question if he would focus on cyclo-cross or road.

"I was asked the question already a billion times and I’ll hear it a billion more times. Now I’ll just enjoy this win and take in that I’ll wear this jersey for a whole year. Then we will see," Merlier said.

The first part of the 224km long course included a triple passage over famous stretches of pavé near Zottegem: Lange Munte, Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat. It was flat-out racing on the cobbles and the peloton split into several pieces.

"I was quite alright," Merlier explained. "Early on during the pavé loops I was riding near the front when we were away with about 40 riders. That was an ideal scenario. I wasn’t losing strength there while some favourites were running into trouble, like [Sep] Vanmarcke, Theuns and a QuickStep rider who crashed. I thought to myself ‘Oh, maybe I should start to believe in my chances," Merlier said.

After two hours of racing, on the final passage of the cobbles, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Dries De Bondt (Corendon-Circus) attacked. They were quickly joined by Lotto-Soudal riders Stan Dewulf and Jelle Wallays. The four leaders carved out a lead of 2:30 when reaching the finish for the first time, still having seven laps of the 15km finishing circuit to cover.

The peloton controlled the breakaway and slowly brought the gap back down to one minute with three laps to go. At 33km from the finish, on one of the few bridges on the flat course, Evenepoel accelerated. His move cost Stan Dewulf his spot up front. From that point on, De Bondt and Wallays skipped more turns than Evenepoel wanted and the gap continued to come down. At 20km from the finish, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) escaped the peloton while Evenepoel continued to put his companions, Stuyven and the peloton under pressure.

When hitting the final lap and final 15km, the trio in front was 15s ahead of Stuyven and 25s ahead of the stretched-out peloton. At 11km from the finish, the leaders were caught back. Stijn Steels (Roompot-Charles) attacked after an acceleration from Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal) was neutralized. His solo effort was over at 7km from the finish.

Wanty-Groupe Gobert took command of the peloton in the final kilometres, later being joined by Corendon-Circus, and Tim Merlier perfectly timed his sprint to win ahead of Dupont, Wout van Aert and Philippe Gilbert.

Full results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Merlier (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental Team4:59:12 
2Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
4Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
5Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
6Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
7Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
8Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
9Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates  
10Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
11Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:00:02 
12Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental Team  
13Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
14Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
15Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy  
16Jens Debusschere (Bel) Team Katusha Alpecin  
17Bert De Backer (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels  
18Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team  
19Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
20Enzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
21Dennis Coenen (Bel) Cibel  
22Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
23Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:00:08 
24Milan Menten (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
25Glenn Debruyne (Bel) Cibel  
26Julien Vermote (Bel) Team Dimension Data  
27Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
28Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team  
29Jan Bakelants (Bel) Team Sunweb  
30Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions  
31Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels  
32Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
33Kevyn Ista (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
34Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
35Mathias De Witte (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
36Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
37Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
38Jacob Relaes (Bel) Cibel  
39Michiel Stockman (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
40Abram Stockman (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
41Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
42Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida  
43Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
44Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
45Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
46Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:00:15 
47Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beat Cycling Club0:00:17 
48Boris Vallee (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
49Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions  
50Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
51Mathias Van Gompel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:00:21 
52David Boucher (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex0:00:23 
53Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
54Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Ef Education First  
55Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions  
56Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Team Katusha Alpecin  
57Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:00:28 
58Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions0:00:31 
59Roy Jans (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
60Michiel Dieleman (Bel) Cibel  
61Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:00:35 
62Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
63Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
64Jordi Van Dingenen (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
65Thomas Joseph (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex0:00:38 
66Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
67Jelle Donders (Bel) Team Dauner | Akkon0:00:41 
68Stijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:00:43 
69Stijn De Bock (Bel) Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes  
70Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
71Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
72Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
73Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team  
74Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team  
75Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
76Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team0:00:46 
77Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:48 
78Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
79Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
80Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels  
81Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
82Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
83Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
84Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:00:53 
85Laurens De Plus (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:01:03 
86Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
87Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
88Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
89Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
90Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions  
91Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal  
92Niels De Rooze (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
93Stijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles0:01:09 
94Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team0:01:17 
95Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
96Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
97Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team0:01:43 
98Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
99Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:01:48 
100Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
101Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles0:02:18 
102Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
103Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team0:03:09 
104Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:03:14 
105Tom Dernies (Bel) Natura4Ever-Roubaix-Lille Metropole0:03:55 
DNFThomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFGianni Marchand (Bel) Cibel  
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFJulien Mortier (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFAlfdan De Decker (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFWim Reynaerts (Bel) Cibel  
DNFTuur Deprez (Bel) Cibel  
DNFLindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFDieter Bouvry (Bel) Cibel  
DNFEmiel Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFChristophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJulien Van Den Brande (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJeroen Eyskens (Bel) Cibel  
DNFKenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFFloris De Tier (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
DNFAlexander Maes (Bel) Cibel  
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFCedric Raymackers (Bel) Cibel  
DNFBart De Clercq (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFAlexander Cools (Bel) Cibel  
DNFJelle Cant (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFJelle Mannaerts (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFYorben Van Tichelt (Bel)  
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental Team  
DNFLaurent Evrard (Bel) Meridiana Kamen Team  
DNFEmiel Vermeulen (Bel) Natura4Ever-Roubaix-Lille Metropole  
DNFJonas Goeman (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFLennert Teugels (Bel) Cibel  
DNFEli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal  
DNFYannick Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental Team  
DNFDieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal  
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
DNFBryan Boussaer (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex  
DNFVictor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) CCC Team  
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFSasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFBraam Merlier (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice Continental Team  
DNFSenne Leysen (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFAlex Colman (Bel) Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes  
DNFTimothy Stevens (Bel) Cibel  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFLouis Deguide (Bel) Team Differdange Geba  
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) Team Differdange Geba  
DNFJeroen Pattyn (Bel) Team Differdange Geba  
DNFYves Coolen (Bel) Beat Cycling Club  
DNFStan Dewulf (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFGuillaume Seye (Bel) Beat Cycling Club  
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Team Sunweb  
Back to top