Two-time Saudi Tour stage winner, Dylan Groenewegen, came agonisingly close to taking his third victory of the season for Team BikeExchange-Jayco today at the Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne, sprinting neck-and-neck with Tim Merlier, before a tight photo finish confirmed that Merlier had denied the 28-year-old the victory by the slimmest of margins.
Throughout the hectic 207km day, which concluded with three technical local finishing laps, the Australian outfit execute textbook tactics, keeping their sprint leader always in prime position, navigating the twisty roads and road furniture to deliver the Dutch sprint star into position for the final blast to the line.
Groenewegen opened up his sprint, flying side-by-side with Merlier and in the final closing metres, it was the lunge for the line that decided the race winner. Neither rider was 100% sure who had won, but the photo finish soon after confirmed that Merlier had gotten the better of the Team BikeExchange-Jayco sprinter by a margain of around one centimetre.
Dylan Groenewegen (2nd place):
“Of course, it was hectic, but it always is in sprinting and in the Belgian sprints it is always worse. We were in a really good position, it was a really good team effort, I was the whole final kilometres in the front, so I saved a lot of energy and in the end, Luka Mezgec did an amazing effort to put me in a good position.
I was in a good position but Tim was a little bit stronger but that is the nice thing about sprinting. I don’t like it when I lose but that is sprinting, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Now we have second place, it is a nice second place but of course if you lose with a small gap, it is frustrating, but we are looking towards the next race.”
Tristan Hoffman – Sport Director
“I am happy with the performance of the team, it was quite stressful with all the corners, speedbumps, and things. You need to be in the front all the time, the guys stayed at the front all the time or on the second line and at the end they were all up there.
Dylan missed the win by just one centimetre, but he had a good ride so of course there is no shame. We always want to win but, in the end, it was a good performance from the team and good to see Dylan fighting for the victory after Paris-Nice where he had some injuries so it wasn’t easy for him. But you see how professional he is to fight his way back and the boys supported him in a very good way so, fantastic.”
2022 Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne Results:
1. Tim Merlier 4:45:41
2. Dylan Groenewegen ST
3. Nacer Bouhanni ST
Photo: Getty Images