Tim Merlier wins opening stage of UAE Tour


Belgian cyclist Tim Merlier has won Stage 1 of the sixth edition of the UAE Tour.

The Soudal Quick-Step rider finished ahead of Arvid De Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling) and Jakub Mareckzo (Team Corratec – Vini Fantini).

Merlier is also the first Red Jersey of the race as he leads the General Classification.

The opening stage featured 141 km of riding through the desert from Al Dhafra Walk to Liwa.

Its finale was marred by a chaotic bunch sprint that saw several riders crash just before the finish line.

"A win is always nice but to get my first WorldTour win of the season is even nicer. I made the right decision to switch side of the road with 500 meters to go. Gaviria and Molano went from far out in the headwind. I made a bit of a mistake with the choice of the gear but the finish line was enough to make it up," said Merlier speaking seconds after the stage finish.

"I want to win every flat stage of the UAE Tour but it’s not easy because the competition is very high. Almost every top sprinter is here. I’m already happy with one win and it takes the pressure off," he added.

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