Tim Merlier has been fined 200 Swiss Francs by the UCI for cycling back down the course when other riders hadn't finished the race at Scheldeprijs on Wednesday.
The Alpecin-Fenix rider finished ninth at the race, 30 seconds behind winner Alexander Kristoff. Just three minutes later though, broadcast cameras captured him riding on the course in reverse direction, while a pack of nine riders sprinted towards the line.
In order to take evasive action, Merlier used his cyclocross experience to hop the barriers to the spectators with his bike at the 200m mark. He claims he believed everyone had finished the race, and was subsequently making his way to the team bus.
"He's going straight into the race!"@MerlierTim had to take evasive action at #SP22 after riding back down the course into a bunch sprint 😮 pic.twitter.com/cOHRodfvz4April 6, 2022
However, the UCI fined him 200 Swiss Francs for failing to follow the instructions of the organiser, leading to Merlier issuing an apology on Twitter.
Merlier said: "I'd like to comment on what happened today after the race in Schoten. 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 apologise if I did."
Of the 136 riders to take the start line at Scheldeprijs, only 30 completed the 198.7km ProSeries race. Regardless, the last rider to cross the finish line, Dan Hoole, did so six-and-a-half minutes after Kristoff had won.
Bearing in mind Merlier chose to ride back down the course just three minutes after he finished highlights his poor decision, especially considering only 13 riders had completed the race by that time, too.
Alexander Kristoff won Scheldeprijs by a comfortable margin, the Norwegian too powerful in the closing 7km for the rest of the field. Merlier even had time to offer the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider congratulations for an impressive performance, in between finishing and riding head on into the sprinters.
I’d like to comment on what happened today after the race in Schoten. 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.April 6, 2022
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