“I had to enter from a distance. I think Lionel Tamino (Fellow of Alpecin-Fenix, editor). He didn’t really understand me well,” Merler analyzed his sprint. “I’m still calling hip hop, but it didn’t really come. Then I had to back off and the wind came in early. I didn’t feel like I had second gear like I used to, but I’m glad I took the momentum and it paid off.”
The course was completely broken during the double lane at Moeren. “When that first leading group disappeared and she had five minutes, I thought If they match, it’s done† But after the first pass in Moeren we got to three minutes and in the second clip two minutes later, I think. Then I started believing in it again,” explains the new Belgian champion. “We got closer and closer. It was a difficult situation, you have to try to be with him. Then I missed the rhythm.”
For a long time it seemed as if there would be no enemy with a (weak) peloton in Middelkerke. “I definitely thought so,” Merler said. “You raced for a long time, but at a certain point you have to gamble. That was a bad guess (Merlier was not in the lead group, editor.)Even though I had two guys with me at the end. For a moment I thought I was done, but when the second peloton came back, I started believing in it again. In the end, everything turned out to be fine. ” (Read more below the photo)
After Ghent 2019, it became Merlier’s second Belgian title. “Winning the race today was harder than it was back then. The 101 scenarios were replayed today, and I’m glad I ran some of them with my coaches this week. It was really a fairground race we were riding. At one point you have to be with everything, but It’s not possible. I think Jasper did it very well, but in the end everything held together again when Lotto Soudal started riding.”
Merler also pointed his finger at the sky after finishing. “It was for my grandmother who passed away the day after Paris-Roubaix. I haven’t been able to honor her yet, she made it through. I’m glad it went well today. You can see from that that you always have to believe in it and keep calm,” he says Merler, who also did not answer a question about which team he will drive for next year. Sports director Christoph Rudhoft did just that a little later.
Jordi Meuse: “I think I’m a few centimeters short”
Young Jordi Mewes finished in second place. “I got pretty close, but it wasn’t close enough to satisfy me,” said the Bora-Hansgrohe rider. “I was really surprised that the bigger group came back on the penultimate lap, but I don’t think that was bad for me. Otherwise, that group would have been far away.”
There was no real filter. “Only my teammate Sian Oijtdebroeks showed up at the start, but he was off. I had to find my way by myself and was actually at the wheel of Jasper Philipsen. When he started, I noticed he didn’t have much left after that tough course. I switched myself, after Too late. Too late. I think I’m a few centimeters shorter.”
Meuss finished second for the second time this month after narrowly losing his stage win to Wut van Aert in Dauphiny. “After that second place, I only had positive vibes with me, but I am disappointed by this. It is a shame that you are ranked second, especially when you are so close.”
Jasper Philipsen: ‘Maybe my best leg is lost in the chase’
Jasper Philipsen took the bronze after a frantic race that ended up briefly on the tram tracks. “I think we were on the far left side of the road, but there were two potholes on the road. I flew on this railroad. I already saw the tour and all my preparation fall into the water, but in the end it wasn’t that bad. But it’s not fun to hit the ground.” “.
“I rode my spare bike for a long time, which was causing me problems with the gears,” Philipsen continued. “As a result, I made a substitution in that leading group, and it was a risk. But in the end they were still racing behind us. I didn’t think it would turn into a fast sprint. It looked good with our leading group, but the pace wasn’t high enough in the Sometimes some riders tried to keep their legs as steady as possible. Then it depends on how they rode in the pack behind us. It can go both ways.”
Philipsen had bad luck in the final stage and chased the leading group alone for several kilometers. “I guess I may have wasted my best leg out there, I think I should have gambled and waited for the flock.”