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Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won the 2022 Danilith Nokere Koerse with a commanding sprint on the final, cobbled drag.
Merlier seemed to easily hold Max Walscheid (Cofidis) and Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Soudal) when he launched into his final kick from the right side of the road, from fourth wheel coming out of the final turn into the long straight drag.
At the conclusion of the 190km race, a reduced bunch sprint with a final, 400m straight after a technical final 1.5km run-in saw no single team control the front.
While several attempts at a breakaway had been made, including a five-man move with American Robin Carpenter (Human Powered Health) that got more than three minutes up the road, the rolling parcours with a finishing circuit on a handful of cobbled sectors doomed the escapees’ attempts.
Alpecin-Fenix was active on the front, to ensure Merlier was in position, as were Lotto-Soudal, and Groupama-FDJ, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, and Arkéa-Samsic.
Hugo Hofstetter (Arkéa-Samsic), who had crashed mid-race, made his way back into the main bunch, and battled for position before the final moves.
A flurry of attacks came in the final 20km, with riders from Bingoal Pauwels Sauces, Wanty Group Gobert Materiaux, Uno-X Team, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, and Team DSM all trying to get gaps, but the technical route sprinkled with short, punchy cobbled stretches prevented any escape.
Former British champion Sam Watson (Groupama-FDJ) looked to have the most promising attack and got as much as a 20-second gap before he, too, was brought under control by the pursuing sprinters’ teams.
While Groupama-FDJ looked to have positioned Bram Welten in the best position at the red kite, he faded in the final kilometer, before the final left turn.
Merlier was the best-positioned rider onto the final straight when he came off of Walscheid’s wheel and held him all the way to the line, seemingly with ease.
2022 Danilith Nokere Koerse Men’s Results
- Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), 4:20:04
- Max Walscheid (Cofidis), at s.t.
- Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Soudal), at s.t.
- Bert Van Lerberghe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at s.t.
- Bram Welten (Groupama-FDJ), at s.t.
- Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), at s.t.
- Hugo Hofstetter (Arkéa-Samsic), at s.t.
- Pierre Barbier (B&B Hotels-KTM), at s.t.
- Pascal Ackermann (UAE-Team Emirates), at s.t.
- Jannik Steimle (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at s.t.