Tim Merlier sprints to win in photo finish at Classic Brugge-De Panne

Alpecin-Fenix sprinter wins by millimetres ahead of Dylan Groenewegen

Tim Merlier
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) sprinted to victory at the Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne, taking the win in a photo finish from Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco).

The Belgian powered to victory in the flat classic as his Dutch rival just missed out on the final bike throw, with Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) in third.

His Alpecin-Fenix team controlled the bunch heading into the last kilometre, and paid them back with the victory in De Panne. There were a nervous few moments before it was confirmed Merlier was the winner, but he was relieved to be given the victory in the end.

How it happened

A pan flat day was in store for the 164 riders who left Brugge on Wednesday, embarking upon 208km of racing with just 246 metres of elevation.

Just a kilometre into the stage, Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Dimitri Peyskens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) and Jens Reynders (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise) clipped off the front.

The trio were allowed to establish a six minute gap, but never looked like they would stay away with so many sprinters and their teams interested in the win.

Various crashes depleted the peloton, with Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar) among those forced to withdraw.

With 31km to go the break was caught, as expected, as the peloton set themselves out for the final sprint.

Various teams attempted to take control into the final, and Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) was one rider who hit the deck as the technical finish impacted the bunch.

Alpecin-Fenix looked to be in control heading round the final corners, and despite the best efforts of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Mark Cavendish ended up being boxed out in the final.

It was Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) who launched first, followed by Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix). Groenewegen spent a little bit more time out in front, which might have let Merlier use Kooij's slipstream to his advantage.

Merlier pipped Groenewegen to the line by just millimetres, and after consulting the video technology, was declared the winner.

Results

Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne 2022 (208km)

1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-45-41
2. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic
4. Max Walscheid (Deu) Cofidis
5. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
6. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
8. Arnaud De Lie (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious, all at same time

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