Tim Merlier landed the eighth and final spot on the Belgian national team roster that will participate in the elite men's race at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Bogense, Denmark. The additional spot opened up on the Belgian roster after his compatriot Toon Aerts earned the World Cup overall victory.
"The selection for the World Cup is a relief," Merlier told Sport.be following the Hoogerheide World Cup. "This is very important for me as well as for the team. But for my World Championship ticket, I was dependent on someone else, but I’m very happy to be able to go to Denmark, because my season has not been what it should be."
Aerts, who won the Belgian championships, will lead the elite men's team that includes defending champion Wout van Aert, Michael Vanthourenhout, Laurens Sweeck, Quinten Hermans, Gianni Vermeersch, Jens Adams and last-minute addition Merlier, while the reserves are Thijs Aerts and Kevin Pauwels.
Belgian national coach Sven Vanthourenhout confirmed last week that Merlier would be Belgian's eighth rider if Aerts secured the World Cup title following the final round in Hoogerheide on Sunday.
Mathieu van der Poel won the race in Hoogerheide ahead of Aerts and Van Aert. Aerts' second place was all he needed to win the overall World Cup.
Merlier has played an important role at the World Championship in the recent years, but hasn't had his best season this year. He said he wouldn't know the Belgian team's tactics until closer to the World Championships.
"I know what to do next week, although in the coming days we get together with the national coach and with Wout and Toon to discuss the tactics," Merlier said.
Although Van Aert lost the World Cup title to Aerts, he was pleased that Merlier was able to secure a spot on the national team.
"I hope that Tim is now waiting in the camper with a bottle of champagne," Van Aert said. "It's not that I'm jumping into the air now, but it's a nice bandage on the wound."
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