Merlier pips Milan to Giro third stage, bold Pogacar holds lead

cycling06 May 2024 16:59| © AFP
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Tim Merlier © Getty Images

Belgian rider Tim Merlier sprinted to victory in the third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday, after race leader Tadej Pogacar threatened to steal a march on the sprinters but the Slovenian safely retained the leader's maglia rosa.

The mostly flat 166km ride from Novara to Fossano was expected to culminate in a sprint finish, but Pogacar seemingly had other plans as he powered away with 2km left to ride, followed by Geraint Thomas, but they were caught before the line.

Soudal Quick-Step's Merlier took the stage, his second Giro win after victory in 2021, just ahead of Jonathan Milan of Lidl-Trek with Eritrea's Biniam Girmay taking third for Intermarche-Wanty.

Pogacar's move took everyone by surprise as he went after Mikkel Frolich Honoure, but the chasers had just enough time to reel in the UAE Team Emirates rider and Thomas, giving Merlier his eighth win of 2024.

"It was the hardest victory so far, it was a really hard final," Merlier said.

"We caught them back but in the last kilometre, I never found the slipstream anymore so I was always in the wind and I saw 300 metres and was like 'you need to go'."

Afterwards, Pogacar said that it hadn't been his intention to make a break.

"I did not attack, I followed the wheel," Pogacar said.

"It was a good situation, me Mikkel Honoure and Thomas. We tried to keep on going but I never believed we could make it to the finish."

Welsh rider Thomas, second overall, had already lost one second to Pogacar in an intermediate sprint, and when the leader joined Honoure'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 Honoure and Pog go and then I was like 'might as well just go' but jeepers man that was solid, he was kicking my head in."

Pogacar, who won Sunday's stage two and the overall lead, is 46 seconds ahead of Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers, with Daniel Martinez (BORA-Hansgrohe) a further second behind in third.

Tuesday's stage four should give the sprinters another chance for glory in a 190km ride from Acqui Terme to Andora.


1. Tim Merlier (BEL) Soudal - Quick-Step 3:54:35

2. Jonathan Milan (ITA) Lidl - Trek "

3. Biniam Girmay (ERI) Intermarché - Wanty "

4. Jenthe Biermans (BEL) Arkéa - B&B Hotels "

5. Tobias Andresen (DEN) Team dsm-firmenich - PostNL " 

6. Olav Kooij (NED) Team Visma - Lease a Bike "

7. Ethan Vernon (GBR) Israel - Premier Tech "

8. Stanislaw Aniolkowski (POL) Cofidis "

9. Fernando Gaviria (COL) Movistar Team "

10. Alberto Dainese (ITA) Tudor Pro Cycling Team "

11. Sebastián Molano (COL) UAE Team Emirates "

12. Kaden Groves (AUS) Alpecin - Deceuninck "

13. Caleb Ewan (AUS) Team Jayco - AlUla "

14. Phil Bauhaus (GER) Bahrain Victorious "

15. Danny van Poppel (NED) BORA - hansgrohe "

16. Max Kanter (GER) Astana - Qazaqstan Team "

17. Laurence Pithie (NZL) Groupama - FDJ "

18. Stefano Oldani (ITA) Cofidis "

19. Hugo Hofstetter (FRA) Israel - Premier Tech "

20. Andrea Piccolo (ITA) EF Education - EasyPost "


1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates 11:03:02

2. Daniel Martínez (COL) BORA - hansgrohe +47

3. Geraint Thomas (GBR) INEOS Grenadiers "

4. Einer Rubio (COL) Movistar Team +56

5. Cian Uijtdebroeks (BEL) Team Visma - Lease a Bike "

6. Lorenzo Fortunato (ITA) Astana - Qazaqstan Team +1:07

7. Juan Pedro López (ESP) Lidl - Trek +1:11

8. Jan Hirt (CZE) Soudal - Quick-Step +1:13

9. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana - Qazaqstan Team +1:26

10. Ben O'Connor (AUS) Decathlon - AG2R - La Mondiale Team "

11. Esteban Chaves (COL) EF Education - EasyPost "

12. Michael Storer (AUS) Tudor Pro Cycling Team +1:33

13. Alex Baudin (FRA) Decathlon - AG2R - La Mondiale Team +1:40

14. Mauri Vansevenant (BEL) Soudal - Quick-Step +1:44

15. Nicola Conci (ITA) Alpecin - Deceuninck "

16. Damiano Caruso (ITA) Bahrain Victorious +1:52

17. Max Schachmann (GER) BORA - hansgrohe +2:00

18. Filippo Zana (ITA) Team Jayco - AlUla +2:07

19. Jhonatan Narváez (ECU) INEOS Grenadiers +2:09

20. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) VF Group - Bardiani - CSF - Faizanè +2:33