Merlier escapes serious injury after spectacular crash in Zonhoven sand pit

Belgian cyclo-cross rider Tim Merlier (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) has confirmed that his crash in the Zonhoven SuperPrestige cyclo-cross race on Sunday has not caused him any problems, after taking a spectacular tumble on the descent into the sand pit that characterises the Zonhoven race and attracts thousands of spectators to the arena-shaped course.

Merlier was well placed after the early laps of the race when he hit a rut and lost control of his bike. He flipped over the handlebars and landed in the soft sand, with his bike bouncing over the barriers and into the other side of the steep slope, where riders are forced to run up the climb. Merlier's crash was captured by photographers, which showed how he had to climb over the barriers to retrieve his bike and then return to the spot where he crashed before continuing his race.

“Bruised ribs is the verdict after my fall,” Merlier tweeted on Monday. “Normally I will be okay at this weekend. It’s a pity because it meant I gave up a provisional third place.”

Merlier’s teammate and Under 23 world cyclo-cross champion Wout Van Aert dominated the Zonhoven race, winning alone, a minute ahead of Rob Peeters and Kevin Pauwels. Merlier finished 19th at 3:53.

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