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Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen get up close and personnel and now Merlier has launched strong criticism post-race against his rival

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) won Classic Brugge-De Panne (1.UWT) just four days after his Milan-Sanremo victory but the man he relegated to 2nd place, Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep), has now strongly criticised his Belgian rival.

The dispute relates to a move Philipsen made coming out of the last right hander as the sprint was starting. Danny van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe) was leading and move to his left as Merlier was about to try to pass on inside.

However, Philipsen then squeezed through to the left of both of them, almost causing Merlier to crash and resulting in his right foot coming out of the pedal. While the pushing and shoving was treated as a racing incident, and did not change the result, Merlier is not happy.

“If I hadn’t held back, the spring will be over for one person,” Merlieir told Cycling flash. “Jasper is lucky that I am a good rider. If I’d pushed through, someone would have gone over the barriers. I probably wouldn’t have fallen but I was probably going to be the one blamed.

Jasper was coming up and I wanted to start my sprint too but then suddenly I got a push in the hip. I stopped pedalling.

“Will this change my relationship with Jasper? No. The relationship itself is good. Last year we trained together a few times in Tenerife, but we were no longer teammates. We now do the same job. I won’t just accept defeat next time.”

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