The Alpecin-Fenix team will head to Hungary for the start of the Giro d’Italia without sprinter Tim Merlier. The Belgian suffered a heavy fall during Paris-Roubaix and a deep gash to his elbow that has not healed enough to allow him to start the Giro d’Italia.
“Tim will unfortunately not be able to line up for this year’s Giro d’Italia,” the team’s injury update stated on Thursday. His blood results (increased CRP and sedimentation, no leukocytosis [all markers of inflammation, ed.]), his training, and the evolution of his wound healing – also according to the surgeon – are not what it should be able to start the Giro on May 6.”
Merlier was due to race the Italian Grand Tour alongside Mathieu van der Poel, but will instead look ahead toward a late-May training camp.
“Starting next weekend, training volume and intensity will be increased. His trainer will continue to monitor Tim’s conditional recovery. Another blood test and general check-up is scheduled for within two weeks,” the team concluded.
Last season, Merlier made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia and scored a stage win on the first sprint stage to Novara, beating Italian champion Giacomo Nizzolo, Elia Viviani, and wore the ciclamino points jersey. But he left the race after stage 10 citing fatigue.
Merlier then went on to race with Van der Poel at the Tour de France, again finding success on stage 3, with Alpecin-Fenix also getting second on the stage with Jasper Philipsen while Van der Poel was leading the race overall. Merlier exited the Tour de France during stage 9 after being dropped from the gruppetto on a grueling stage with five major climbs.
He is due to reprise his Tour de France appearance with Van der Poel in July.