Tim Merlier wins the AlUla Tour sprint and Van Uden takes back the lead

As it couldn’t be otherwise, the Football is the premier sport in Saudi Arabia. However, there is one of the most exotic to the Western world that is one of the most popular in the Persian Gulf: the Camel racing. In 2023, Arabia will host the fourth edition of the Camel festival A competition was held involving 14,000 of these animals, with up to 14.9 million euros in prizes being awarded. Betting is prohibited, but it has no influence on the show in which its protagonists end up Speeds up to 65 km/h.

The result took place on one of these legendary race tracks third stage of the AlUla Tour, Where Tim Merlier (Quick-Step) sprinted like a camel to victory. After an intense day full of fans, the Belgian secured his first win of the season Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor) and a Casper van Uden (DSM), which regained the overall lead. As for the favorites, Majka and Chessman They are practically eliminated from the fight for the title after being eliminated from the first group in the final part of the stage (55″ defeat).

Gray clouds hung over the runners at AlUla International Airport right from the start. A rough day, accompanied by strong crosswinds on much of the route. Cyclists drank coffee in the VIP area (temperature over 10°) before neutralization and their faces said it all. There would be fight. Soon a Trio on the run, in which Euskaltel repeated again, this time with Luis Ángel Maté. In addition to the Spanish, there are also the Japanese Koishi (JCL) and the Greek Tzortzakis (Roojai). As if there were no incentives, Water decided to join the party. It rains even in the desert. During transit Elephant Rock, one of the landmarks of AlUla, Koishi lost contact but was soon able to return to his head.

With about 4:30 minutes ahead of the peloton, the battle began: the hope of the escapees against the greed of the colorful snake. Change of street and first fans… with the Movistar seal. The Telephones won the inside of the corner leading to the road change, which was narrower, causing a huge whiplash that resulted in a series of cuts in the peloton. Men like coquard and Majka (who was already starting to suffer from Polish) lost touch. With almost two hours left on the stage, a ceasefire was agreed upon. Regrouping.

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After the leak was neutralized just over 20 km from the finish line, the news came: Soren Waerenskjold would give up the lead after a flat tire. The Norwegian was caught in the middle of the kilometer straight, so he was sold. The same thing happened to others too Maika and Chessman, due to lack of strength and positioning in the final fan stroke. A small group of 29 runners, with Formolo and Simon Yates, He took the lead to play for the win and Merlier had no rival. Totally unnecessary.

“It was very cold at the beginning today. But in the end we warmed up with the fans,” joked the Belgian after crossing the finish line with his finger raised, a very special dedication: “I am pleased to be able to dedicate the victory to my son on the occasion of his first birthday. Everything went well in the sprint and I’m happy. Is always good (winning so early in the season), Especially today, when the team helped me progress well. We made some mistakes in the last two days but I kept believing. “Today was the day.” This Friday, New opportunity for sprinters with a completely flat route of 142.2 km.

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