Tim Merlier grabbed the attention of spectators and organisers at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, but not for his sprint. A little more than three minutes had lapsed since he crossed the soggy finish line in Schoten in ninth place, and then he was spotted by broadcast cameras and course-side fans slow pedalling in a reverse direction on the course while a pack of nine riders steamrolled toward the finish.
The Alpecin-Fenix rider was seen escaping the charging contingent by lifting his bicycle and climbing over the barricades near the 250-metres to go marker.
He later apologised on social media, saying, "When I crossed the finish line to ride back to the team parking, I sincerely thought that all the riders had arrived, as I wasn’t stopped and there was only one group behind us in the race.
"It was by no means my intention to endanger anyone, and I would like to apologize if I did."
"This should never happen," former pro José De Cauwer said about the situation in a report by Sporza. The media outlet reported that the race jury fined Merlier €200 for the dangerous move while the field of play was still active.
Most cameras had focused on Merlier minutes earlier as he finished the Flanders Classic event riding alongside teammate Jasper Philipsen, both in a group of eight chasers who could not catch solo winner Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux). The duo ended the day in eighth and ninth places, respectively, 28 seconds behind Kristoff, and trailing four other riders who fought for the other podium positions.
In a statement provided to Cyclingnews, a representative from Alpecin-Fenix offered, “He wanted to ride back to the team bus and honestly thought that all the riders had already crossed the finish line.”
Behind Merlier’s group, however, were another 16 riders who would finish between 3:32 and 6:23 off the winning pace. Of the 136 riders to take the start line, only 30 completed the mid-week Pro Series race of 198.7 kilometres.
A video of the manouver had been viewed more than 24,000 times just two hours following the race.
Wrong Way, Tim!@MerlierTim had to hop over the barriers to avoid an incident after the finish of #Scheldeprijs pic.twitter.com/Z3t1eVMXXnApril 6, 2022
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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).
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