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Tim Merlier claims Belgian road race title

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Tim Merlier is the new Belgian champion

Tim Merlier is the new Belgian champion (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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The podium finishers

The podium finishers (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Celebrations for Corendon-Circus

Celebrations for Corendon-Circus (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Greg Van Avermaet crosses the line

Greg Van Avermaet crosses the line (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Tim Merlier celebrates

Tim Merlier celebrates (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Tim Merlier can't quite believe he's won

Tim Merlier can't quite believe he's won (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Tim Merlier celebrates his victory

Tim Merlier celebrates his victory (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Jasper Stuyven on the move

Jasper Stuyven on the move (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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CCC Team working for Van Avermaet

CCC Team working for Van Avermaet (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Wout Van Aert on the move

Wout Van Aert on the move (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Remco Evenepoel rode an aggressive race

Remco Evenepoel rode an aggressive race (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Remco Evenepoel rode an aggressive race

Remco Evenepoel rode an aggressive race (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Philippe Gilbert at the start

Philippe Gilbert at the start (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
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Tim Merlier soaks it in on the podium

Tim Merlier soaks it in on the podium (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

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
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