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Merlier loses Giro d'Italia points jersey after chain problem in stage 5 sprint

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) on stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia
Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) on stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) said after his Giro d'Italia stage victory in Novara on Sunday that everything coming later was a bonus, but after three days in the lead of the points classification, he lost the ciclamino jersey when his chain dropped during the sprint on stage 5 in Cattolica. Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) took the jersey with second place on the stage.

Merlier had jumped on the wheel of eventual stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) but got squeezed between the Australian and Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan, and a brief back-pedal was enough to dislodge his chain and end his time in the jersey. After leading by 12 points over Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Merlier is now third behind the two Italians.

"The sprint started perfectly, it couldn't be better. I said to myself, 'It's going to be OK, it's going to be OK'," said Merlier. "Actually, I still had a lot left. The moment Cofidis passed, I wanted to go to the right. Ewan defended his place and my chain flew off. Then it was over. It's a shame because I was there. I was really in there."

Merlier was in the mix in the intermediate sprint, taking fifth behind UAE Team Emirates' Fernando Gaviria and Viviani and two of the day's breakaway riders, but still has 14 points to make up to equal Nizzolo in the points classification.

"We actually turned left and we had an ideal position. Then Gianni [Vermeersch] said, 'Just get dragged along.' In the end, I was just in the wheel and I thought, I can actually get the full points. But I was just too late for that."