Tour of Italy: The 3rd stage for Tim Merlier, Tadej Pogacar still insatiable

Tour of Italy: The 3rd stage for Tim Merlier, Tadej Pogacar still insatiable
Tour of Italy: The 3rd stage for Tim Merlier, Tadej Pogacar still insatiable

The 3rd stage for Tim Merlier, Tadej Pogacar still insatiable

Published today at 7:14 p.m.

The Belgian Tim Merlier won the 3rd stage of the Tour of Italy in a sprint on Monday, between Novara and Fossano in Piedmont, but the pink jersey Tadej Pogacar was still ahead at the red flame, more cannibalistic than ever after his victory the day before .

After two difficult first days, contested like classics, the runners decided to take a breather. This 166 km stage without any major difficulties was suitable for this. For two hours, the nonchalance of the peloton was only disturbed by a fleeting exit from Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Wanty), followed by the Italian Davide Ballerini (Astana), who left to scrape a few points at the top of the only difficulty of the day , a fourth category.

But the peace of the brave was shattered in the first intermediate sprint, when the movement of the peloton allowed the formation of a breakaway of 26 riders, including a good number of sprinters. After some hesitation, the fugitives decided to insist, and quickly took a 1’30” lead. Pogacar’s pink jersey was not threatened and the UAE remained calm. But teams not represented at the front – Polti Kometa, Movistar and Bahrain in particular – decided to launch the chase.

Crazy race for around forty kilometers

The race became crazy for about forty kilometers. Stretched like an elastic band by the pursuers, the peloton broke and split in two, leaving around a hundred men at the rear. Meanwhile, the 26 escapees were unable to agree and saw their lead disappear. The end of the recess was signaled 43 km from the finish, when the fugitives were recaptured and the second peloton joined up. Everything had to be redone.

Facetiously, the organizers had placed a 1.3 km steep slope at the end of this flat stage, four kilometers from the goal. History of disrupting the plans of the sprinters’ teams. On the high percentages, the Dane Mikkel Honoré attempted an attack. Immediately countered by… a pink jersey! Tadej Pogacar himself, the man who took more than 45 seconds from all his competitors the day before in the mountains. Insatiable, uncontrollable, incapable of resisting the pleasure of going for the head.

Geraint Thomas – 2nd overall at 45 seconds – jumped on his wheel and the two leaders found themselves alone, detached, almost surprised, arriving on the very long finishing straight. They still had a five-second lead under the red flame, but they could not resist the return of the sprinters and Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step), although without a teammate, intelligently positioned himself in the last 300 meters to go to win by one wheel in front of the Italian Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek).

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Pogacar has “very good legs”

“I didn’t attack,” almost apologized the new “cannibal” Pogacar, still leading the general standings at the end of the 3rd stage, with 47 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez and Geraint Thomas. “I just followed, I took Mikkel Honoré’s wheel. Then with Geraint we tried to stay in front, I didn’t really believe it, but Geraint tried to come back, that surprised me. I tried but 400 meters were missing, it was too long,” he continued.

The Slovenian, double winner of the Tour de France who aims this year to achieve the Giro-Tour double, unprecedented in the 21st century and last won by Marco Pantani in 1998, confirms in any case that his physique is up to his standards. ambitions: “I have very good legs. This kind of finish was good for me, we saw that I was in good condition.”

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Tuesday, the 4th stage will take the peloton from Acqui Terme to Andora over 190 km, on a route similar to that of this Monday, with a single difficulty (3rd category) 90 km from the finish and a flat finish which should again allow the sprinters to explain themselves.

AFP

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