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The Belgian sprinter was pedaling against traffic when a chasing group was charging toward the line, forcing him to pass his bike over the barriers and jump out of the way.
On Thursday, he said the move was unintentional.
“When I crossed the finish line to ride back to the team parking, I sincerely thought that all the riders had arrived, as I wasn’t stopped and there was only one group behind us in the race,” Merlier wrote on social media.
“It was by no means my intention to endanger anyone, and I would like to apologize if I did.”
After crossing the line, Merlier can be seen at the 200m to go mark scrambling over the barrier alongside the course as a small group of racers bore directly down on him.
The Belgian had finished in ninth place in the race won solo by Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).
Several commentators criticized Merlier, including former UCI president Pat McQuaid who said he should be disqualified for the miscue.
— GCN Racing (@GcnRacing) April 6, 2022