Tour de France: Tim Merlier wins crash-marred stage 3

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won his second Grand Tour stage of the year, sprinting to victory on a crash-marred stage 3 of the Tour de France in Pontivy.

The closing kilometres of the day were ruined by a succession of crashes, which saw Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) go down nine kilometres out and lose over 1:21 at the finish.

Another crash hit the middle of the peloton four kilometres out, with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) held up as numerous riders hit the ground, while the sprint for the line saw Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) touch wheels with Merlier, causing him and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to crash hard inside the final 150 metres.

Merlier sprinted to victory unhindered after a stellar Alpecin-Fenix lead-out, with his teammate Jasper Philipsen taking second place ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic). Race leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), finished safely in the front group to retain the yellow jersey.

"I'm living a dream, I think. After the Giro, I was already very happy, but now to win a stage at the Tour, the biggest race in the world. I can't believe it," Merlier said after the finish.

"Mathieu said he was going to do the lead-out, and I said, 'you are crazy' but he loves to do it, so then Jasper Philipsen took over for the last 700 metres. It was a great lead-out and I just needed to go the last 150 metres. I looked back and I couldn't believe it, there was nobody else on my wheel. There was a crash, and so that would be the reason, I think.

"I can't believe this, it's a dream," he concluded.

As a result of the crashes, only Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) managed to avoid losing time among the GC men, with groups of riders coming home at 14 seconds and 26 seconds – the latter group including Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).

How it unfolded

Stage 3 of the Tour de France took the peloton 182.9 kilometres across southern Brittany from Lorient to Pontivy, giving the sprinters their first opportunity to shine in the race.

A largely flat opening third of the stage gave way to more rolling roads to the finish, though little to trouble any of the sprint contenders. Two category-four climbs lay on the route, the Côte de Cadoudal after 91 kilometres and the Côte de Pluméliaeu after 148 kilometres.

Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) was an unsurprising early attacker, having been out in the break on the first two days of the race. The German, wearing polka dots as mountain classification leader Mathieu van der Poel held the maillot jaune, was looking to retake the polka dot jersey.

He was joined out front by two men from Breton team B&B Hotels p/b KTM in Cyril Barthe and Maxime Chevalier, plus Cofidis' Jelle Wallays, and AG2R Citroënman Michael Schär.

With the road behind them blocked at the head of the peloton, the five riders were allowed to ride off, cementing the break of the stage. Shortly afterwards, Lotto Soudal and Groupama-FDJ set to work on the front of the peloton to limit the gap on behalf of their sprinters, Caleb Ewan and Arnaud Démare.

The break's advantage was held in the 2:30 to three-minute mark by the teams, though Mark Cavendish's Deceuninck-QuickStep and Van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix squads were not present at the front at that point.

A fairly standard sprint stage formula looked to be playing out, with dozens of quiet kilometres lying ahead. However, that was punctured by another crash at the front of the peloton following the carnage of the opening day.

Ineos Grenadiers co-leader Geraint Thomas went down after 37 kilometres following a touch of wheels, while Jumbo-Visma domestique Robert Gesink was left with nowhere to go and ploughed into the Welshman, somersaulting to the floor.

Thomas looked in trouble as he clutched his collarbone/shoulder area, but it emerged that he had dislocated his shoulder rather than broken any bones, and he was able to continue, catching back on with 125 kilometres to go. For Gesink, meanwhile, it was a less happy ending as he was forced to abandon the Tour due to his injuries.

20 kilometres later, the rain that hit at around the time of the crash stopped, and the break passed into the final 100 kilometres towards the Côte de Cadoudal with an advantage of 2:30 on the peloton.

Schelling went on the move on the climb, and he was given no contest by his breakmates as he picked up another point to go equal top in the KOM standings. Little action came in the following kilometres, barring a crash for Qhubeka NextHash riders Sean Bennett and Nic Dlamini, though the work in the peloton brought the gap down to 1:30 by the intermediate sprint after 118 kilometres.

Barthe led the break though, but the real interest lay in the sprinters back in the peloton. Bahrain Victorious, Lotto Soudal and Deceuninck-QuickStep put together lead outs for Sonny Colbrelli, Ewan and Cavendish, with the Australian just shading it ahead of the Manxman at the line.

The riders just behind were neck and neck too, and the final result saw 11 points going to Ewan, 10 to Cavendish, eight to Colbrelli, seven to Démare, six to Peter Sagan, and five to Michael Matthews.

All that stood between the riders and the final sprint at that point was the second climb of the Côte de Pluméliaeu, 34 kilometres out from the finish. With Schelling no longer in the break by that point, there was no tension on the hill as Wallays led the remaining breakaway riders over the top.

Back in the peloton, the sprint and GC teams had fully taken charge of proceedings, with Jumbo-Visma, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Ineos Grenadiers and Bahrain Victorious all working at the front as the stage reached its final kilometres.

Team DSM, Groupama-FDJ and Alpecin-Fenix also moved up as the riders reached the final 10 kilometres, as the remains of the break were reabsorbed. But at the 10-kilometre mark, a spate of crashes hit the peloton.

The first of the two spills saw Groupama-FDJ rider Valentin Madouas caught up along with Movistar's Miguel Ángel López, while Jumbo-Visma GC favourite Primož Roglič came a cropper a kilometre later, shredding his jersey and shorts as he hit the ground.

The majority of the Dutch squad waited back for Roglič, attempting to bring him back across what was then a one-minute gap to the reduced peloton. Up front, the break was caught, but the situation looked grim for the Slovenian with five kilometres to run.

A technical final run-in lay ahead, including tight turns on and off a bridge just outside the two-kilometre mark and a near-hairpin at 1.5 kilometre out. Before the riders could reach those difficulties, however, there was another crash at four kilometres to go, with half a dozen riders – at least – going down.

Yellow jersey man Van der Poel hit the front for the final two kilometres – with Roglič still a minute down, working for his sprinter Tim Merlier. The Alpecin-Fenix lead-out took over in the final kilometre.

The Belgian squad played it to perfection, depositing Merlier on the front in the final 150 metres, but just behind there was yet more carnage as Ewan hit the ground after touching his wheel. Sagan had nowhere to go and went down too, while Bouhanni avoided the crash to take third place.

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Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 4:01:28
2Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
5Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
7Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
8Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
9Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
10Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash
11Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
12Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
13Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
14Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
15Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
16Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
17Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
18Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:14
19Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
20Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
21Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
22Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
23Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
24Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies
25Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
26Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
27Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
28Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Qhubeka-NextHash
29Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash
30Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
31Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
32Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
33Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
34Carlos Barbero (Spa) Qhubeka-NextHash
35Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:26
36Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
37Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
38Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
39Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo
40Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
41Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
42David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
43Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
44Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo
45Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
46Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
47Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
48Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
49Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange
50Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
51Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
52Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
53Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
54Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
55Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
56Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
57Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
58Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
59Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
60Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
61Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
62Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
63Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
64Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
65Julien Simon (Fra) TotalEnergies
66Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
67Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange
68Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
69Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
70Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
71Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
72Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
73Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team
74Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
75Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
76Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
77Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:38
78Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:00:44
79Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:53
80Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
81Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:01:06
82Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:13
83Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation 0:01:15
84Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
85André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
86Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
87Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo
88Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
89Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
90Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:21
91Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
92Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
93Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team
94Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
95Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
96Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
97Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
98Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
99Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
100Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
101Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:27
102Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Qhubeka-NextHash 0:01:35
103Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:01:45
104Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:56
105Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo
106Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech
107Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:59
108Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
109Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:03
110Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
111Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
112Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:02:06
113Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
114Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) TotalEnergies 0:02:07
115Victor de la Parte (Spa) TotalEnergies
116Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
117Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
118Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
119Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
120Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix
121Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:02:11
122Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
123Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
124Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
125Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
126Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
127Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
128Simon Geschke (Ger) Cofidis
129Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
130Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
131Tony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma 0:02:15
132Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates
133Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates
134Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka-NextHash 0:02:22
135Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:02:32
136Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis 0:02:37
137Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
138Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech 0:02:39
139Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:42
140Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:46
141Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:02:47
142Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
143Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:56
144Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
145Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:02:59
146Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
147Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:03:00
148Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
149Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
150Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:03:51
151Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal 0:03:52
152Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
153Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:11
154Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
155Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:57
156Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
157Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
158Jeremy Cabot (Fra) TotalEnergies
159Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:05:01
160Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis
161Simon Clarke (Aus) Qhubeka-NextHash
162Sean Bennett (USA) Qhubeka-NextHash
163Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
164Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
165Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo 0:05:03
166Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:05:20
167Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:05:21
168Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:05:28
169Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:06:07
170Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:06:08
171Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:06:37
172Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:06:39
173Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:07:36
174Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
175Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:07:39
176Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:07:41
177Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious 0:08:36
178Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
DNFRobert Gesink (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
DNFJack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
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Sprint 1 - La Fourchette (Pleugriffet) km. 118.3
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 20
2Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 17
3Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team 15
4Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis 13
5Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal 11
6Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 10
7Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 9
8Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 8
9Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 7
10Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 6
11Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 5
12Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 4
13Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 3
14Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious 2
15Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 1
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Sprint 2 - Pontivy km. 182.9
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult