Soudal-QuickStep could also be shifting away from focussing on the Classics and sprints in favour of supporting Remco Evenepoel’s Grand Tour ambitions, however the staff’s sprinter Tim Merlier continues to be placing ahead his case to make subsequent yr’s Tour de France squad.
The Belgian did not race any Grand Excursions final yr and hasn’t taken on the Tour de France since 2021 because the staff as a substitute took Fabio Jakobsen this summer time. His participation subsequent July is up within the air, with QuickStep not possible to take any type of dash prepare to France.
As a substitute, the staff will deal with Remco Evenepoel‘s GC ambitions with the likes of Mikel Landa, Julian Alaphilippe, and Mattia Cattaneo set to assist the 23-year-old famous person.
Merlier laid out his case for inclusion within the staff’s squad subsequent summer time in an interview with RTBF.
“I learn and heard that no sprinter could be allowed to come back alongside and that harm,” he mentioned.
“I do not actually agree with this resolution. Particularly as a result of there’s a tough gravel stage 9 on the programme. Bert Van Lerberghe and I’ve all of the qualities to guard Remco properly and information him when it comes to positioning.
“Agreed, there are additionally different riders within the staff able to doing this work, however our chief would not solely want climbers. Look how Jumbo-Visma’s rouleurs take the peloton in tow with their prepare, as much as the foot of every mountain.
“I stay satisfied that choosing me and Bert could be a good suggestion to assist Remco win the Tour.”
Merlier’s most up-to-date Grand Tour participation was the 2022 Vuelta a España, whereas he has stage wins on the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2021 to his identify. This season he picked up 11 wins, together with 5 at WorldTour stage throughout the UAE Tour, Paris-Good, and the Tour de Pologne.
If he does make the staff subsequent July, he’d absolutely be largely left to his personal units in dash finishes after key components of the well-known QuickStep lead-out prepare – Tim Declercq, Michael Mørkøv, and Rémi Cavagna – are shifting elsewhere this winter.
Merlier said that his desire is to tackle the Tour, moderately than the Giro (“too quickly after the Classics”) or Vuelta (“it is on the finish of the season”), subsequent yr. He mentioned he’d discuss to Evenepoel and staff boss Patrick Lefevere about it.
“I need to go to the Tour,” he mentioned. “It isn’t my fashion to make scandals, however I intend to have an excellent discuss with Patrick Lefevere. And perhaps additionally with Remco.
“I need to clarify to them that it’s potential to go to the Tour with a staff focussed on the final classification, but additionally able to profitable bunch sprints.”