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Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) defended his title and took victory at Nokere Koerse after a dramatic finale.

Merlier prevailed against fellow Belgians Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Milan Menten (Lotto Dstny) on the Nokereberg and took the win.

The final kilometers were littered with falls that hampered the pursuit behind a three-man attacking group that included Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-Premier Tech).

A nasty crash just before the final kilometer looked like it would have dashed the chasing group’s hopes, but it all came back together at the foot of the final climb and Merlier rode clear with about 200 meters to go to take his fifth win of the season in impressive style.

“The last two laps were flat out racing, it was difficult to control but Bert Van Lerberghe was so strong today and he held everything together for us and he also gave me a great lead. What Bert did today was top class, almost indescribable. It’s an absolute dream to be on your bike,” said Merlier.

“When they fell I yelled at Bert that there was a fall and that he shouldn’t hesitate any longer and he did a fantastic job. He put me in the right place and exactly how I wanted it. In the end it was enough for the goal.”

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Arvid de Kleijn delivers first Tudor victory at Milano-Torino

Arvid De Kleijn (C) sprints on his way to victory at Milan-Turin. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Arvid de Kleijn took a big win for Tudor Pro Cycling by kicking to victory at Milano-Torino.

Some mishaps between roundabouts in the final kilometers blocked some of the pre-race favorites as the group pulled off a sprint finish at the midweek classic in northern Italy.

De Kleijn opened a long sprint to fend off Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) for the win for the new team, backed by ex-pro Fabian Cancellara. Casper Van Uden (Team DSM) completed the podium in third.

“I feel great. The team did a great job for me. I was confident this morning because of the environment I’m in now,” he said. “When I was put in a good position I knew that I was going to win. With the lead I got, I managed to beat some top sprinters. It’s great”.

The win is the first for the new team at this level of men’s racing since moving up to ProTeam level in 2023.

Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) was among the top riders who lost position in the chaotic run to the finish. The tall Dutchman recovered but could only manage 10th place.

Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) won here last year but failed to finish in the top 10 in one of the oldest cycling races, crossing the finish line in 33rd.

Racing continues this weekend in Italy at Milan-San Remo, the first monument of the season.

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