For the second sprint in a row, they drew a Philipsen card in Alpecin-Fenix. However, this trip seems to be a perfect fit for Tim Merler. “We don’t have a view of the interior kitchen in Alpecin-Fenix. But you’d be tempted to say Merlier is faster,” says José De Cauwer.
“I also expected Merler here,” says Michelle Wittes. “Due to the nature of the last straight line being flat and a bit low. With its speed, similar to Petacchi, it is difficult to re-climb when driven perfectly.”
However, van der Poel said before the start that it would be for Merlier. “To our great surprise, despite van der Poel’s prediction about the Merlier card, things went differently.”
“I don’t know what happened. If they make that choice along the way, I think it’s a mistake. You have to make that choice before the start. And then you have to stick with it. Unless Merlier points out that he says ‘Not well is normal,'” Wuyts says.
“They also say a little,” de Coeur notes. “Van der Poel will come in and say it’s going to be Merler. If we ask the question to the captain, he says they don’t talk about it. What is it now?”
“If Merler had a Courtois character, he would say: ‘It’s up to me and no one else,'” says Wittes.
Which team has two runners with? De Kauer asks. “Not even one.”
Michelle Wittes can understand Philipsen’s reaction after the ride. “I think he’d do well to get on the bus right away. If he immediately answers the press’s questions, he’s spitting out his juice, and I don’t know who.”