Tim Merlier hits back at Jasper Philipsen following De Panne defeat, at Scheldeprijs: "It is just important for me to be able to sprint and win every race"

Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen, former teammates, are currently the two best sprinters in the peloton. Whilst Philpsen has over the past few weeks taken the headlines by beating Merlier at Tirreno-Adriatico, Classic Brugge-De Panne and also winning Milano-Sanremo; the Soudal - Quick-Step sprinter has returned to big victories today as he beat Philipsen directly at Scheldeprijs.

“It was not the plan to be so far away, but that was due to circumstances. Some riders were almost crashing into each other. That's how we lost each other, but I knew that Bert [Van Lerberghe] was still coming. Bert then knows exactly what to do," Merlier said in a post-race interview with Wielerflits. "I lost track of the signs for a while, but I learned from my sprint in the Classic Brugge-De Panne. That's why I just started from far away. You ride at about 70 to 75 kilometers per hour and then it goes fast.”

it was another chaotic sprint today in Belgium but Merlier, who has thrived in those this season, has done it again. He got the perfect positioning into the sprint, and set off with an acceleration that no-one could reach, and benefited from Philipsen's non-ideal positioning to take his seventh victory of the season - which includes quite a few at World Tour level.

Whether he can be called the best sprinter in the peloton currently or not depends on who you ask, “but I'm not concerned with that," he assures. "It is just important for me to be able to sprint and win every race. I am happy that I was able to achieve my seventh victory here.”

Merlier is racing an almost complete spring classics program, fighting for the wins in the pan-flat races but also contesting the toughest of cobbled classics. Although he's unlikely to be a big favourite, he will contest Paris-Roubaix and as an in-form rider who excells in the flat roads, he can think of doing something special.

“I already felt in the Tour of Flanders that the form is going well. I have also recovered well from the efforts. I look forward. I hope luck is on my side," Merlier concluded.

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