Merlier dedicates Tour of Oman stage win to new baby

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Belgium’s Tim Merlier dedicated his opening stage win in the Tour of Oman on Saturday to his new baby.

“This was the only pure sprint so I’m happy, I couldn’t be happier in fact, I’ve been a father less than two weeks and now I can celebrate that with this win,” said the 30-year-old on his first road race with new team Soudal-Quick Step.

British veteran Mark Cavendish was making his own debut with Astana but came 21st, sitting up when getting stuck in the pack after failing to get involved in the final bunch sprint.

David Dekker of Arkea Samsic was second and Frenchman Axel Zingle of Cofidis took third after a long dash for the line.

Merlier, a stage winner on the 2021 Tour de France, clinched the win with a final flurry over the closing 200m, which were slightly uphill after a 147km run from Al Rustaq Fort to Muscat.

“In the sprint, I went a bit too early, but I had what it took to keep the speed, and this gives me a lot of confidence for the future,” said Merlier, who took his career win tally to 24.

Sunday’s second stage ends with a 2km seven percent gradient climb after a 174km run from Muscat-Quarayyat, with three more stages all finishing with climbs.


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