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Merlier wins Giro d’Italia stage three as Pogacar and Thomas surge falls short
Cycling Sport

Merlier wins Giro d’Italia stage three as Pogacar and Thomas surge falls short

Belgian sprinter Tim Merlier sprinted to victory in the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday, after race leader Tadej Pogacar had threatened to steal a march on the sprinters with a late burst.

The mostly flat 166km ride from Novara to Fossano was expected to culminate in a sprint finish, but Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) had other plans. The man in the pink jersey broke clear with Mikkel Honoré (EF Education-EasyPost) and title rival Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in the closing stages, but all three were caught by the pack before the line.

It was Soudal Quick-Step sprinter Merlier who took the stage just ahead of Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek). Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) came home in third place. Merlier’s victory was the second Giro stage win of his career, having won stage two in 2021.

“It was a really hard finale,” the 31-year-old Merlier said. “We caught [the breakaway] back but in the last kilometre, I never found the slipstream any more. I was always in the wind and I saw 300 metres [left] and was like ‘you need to go’.”

Afterwards, Pogacar insisted that it had not been his intention to make a break. “I did not attack, I followed the wheel,” Pogacar said. “It was a good situation, me, Mikkel Honoré and Thomas. We tried to keep on going but I never believed we could make it to the finish.”

Tadej Pogacar signs autographs after the third stage.View image in fullscreen

Thomas had already lost one second to Pogacar at an intermediate sprint, and when the leader joined Honoré’s break, Thomas was forced to follow suit, and the top two almost made it to the line. “It wasn’t the plan, we just wanted to stay well out of trouble,” Thomas said. “Then I saw Honoré and Pog go and then I was like ‘might as well just go,’ but jeepers man that was solid, he [Pogacar] was kicking my head in.”

Pogacar, who won Sunday’s stage two and took the overall lead, retains the maglia rosa. The Slovenian leads Thomas by 46 seconds with Colombian riders Daniel Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Einer Rubio (Movistar) in third and fourth place, 47 and 56 seconds respectively behind the leader.

Tuesday’s fourth stage looks set to be another contest for the sprinters, with just one categorised climb on the 190km ride between spa resort Acqui Terme and the coastal town of Andora.

Source: theguardian.com