Patrick Lefevere believes Tim Merlier can take step above Jasper Philipsen: "Tim is always calm, he can do it alone"

Tim Merlier has won at the Saudi Tour and UAE Tour already this year, whilst Jasper Philipsen has not yet begun his season. Soudal - Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere is keen on comparing the two of them and believes his man can have an advantage.

"If you see who Tim beat here, they are the fastest guys in the world. The sprint is always very hectic, there is confusion but he doesn't need the lead-out of five men to be able to win," Lefevere said in words to GCN at the UAE Tour. "I think Jasper is a more nervous sprinter, Tim is always calm, he can do it alone. If he has a lead-out, of course, it is better, but Jasper needs space or he boxes space, as you saw last year at the Tour."

The Belgian team has supported Merlier to 11 wins in 2023, 5 of them at World Tour level. A very decent level for a rider that was not even taken to a Grand Tour - which may happen once again this year, although the Giro d'Italia may be in his plans as the team goes all-in for the overall classification at the Tour de France.

"He will be at Tirreno and also the Belgian races because he is Flemish. We think he is able to win Gent-Wevelgem unless they make that race too hard," Lefevere believes. The Belgian sprinter has in the past done quite well in the cobbled classics and will hope to have his best form in display at the time. "I don't see why it needs to do the Kemmelberg three times. He's a former cyclo-crosser so he should be good in Paris-Roubaix as well."

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