Merlier dedicates Tour of Oman stage win to new baby
Belgian Tim Merlier dedicated his victory at the first stage of the Tour of Oman on Saturday to his newborn baby.
“It was the only clean sprint so I’m happy, in fact I couldn’t be happier, I’ve been a father for less than two weeks and now I can celebrate with this win,” said the 30-year-old. in his first road race with the new Soudal-Quick Step team.
British veteran Mark Cavendish made his debut with Astana but finished in 21st place, moving up when he got stuck in the pack after failing to take part in the final group sprint.
David Dekker of Arkea Samsic was second and France’s Axel Zingl of Cofidis was third after a long run to the finish line.
Merlier, the 2021 Tour de France stage winner, sealed the victory with a final push in the final 200m, which was slightly uphill after the 147km run from Al Rustaq Fort to Muscat.
“In the sprint I went too early, but I had everything I needed to keep up the pace and that gives me a lot of confidence going forward,” said Merlier, who has gone on to 24 wins in his career.
Sunday’s second stage ends with a 2km 7% climb after a 174km run from Muscat-Kuarayat, with three more stages ending with climbs.