The Belgian cyclist Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) has won this Monday the third stage of the Tour of Francia, disputed between Lorient and Pontivy over 182.9 kilometers, and his partner Mathieu Van der Poel He continues to be the leader of the race after a very eventful day with several victims.
Alpecin-Fenix doubled in goal with Merlier the winner and, in principle, the last pitcher Jasper Philipsen, second, with Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) third and the leader Van der Poel, also from Alpecin-Fenix, seventh to confirm that he will wear the yellow jersey one more day.
Beyond the victory at the finish line, the stage was marked by several falls of important men for the general, such as the current champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates), with 26 seconds lost on the finish line equal to a Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) who was the first ‘rooster’ to fall, or that of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who left 1:20 at the finish line.
Beyond the triumph at the finish line, the stage was marked by several falls of important men for the general, such as those of the current champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates), with 26 seconds lost at the finish line just like a Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) which was the first ‘rooster’ to fall, or that of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who left 1:20 at the finish line.
The great beneficiary of this unfortunate day, of this shock that was the third stage for the great group, was the Ecuadorian of the INEOS Grenadiers Richard Carapaz, the only one of the candidates for the victory who saved the furniture and who ascends to third place in the general , 8 seconds better than a Pogacar who was also fortunate to lose only 26 seconds and not have scratches.
And it is that Geraint Thomas, for example, entered with Pogacar but had to empty himself to return to the group, rolling for several minutes with little help from his team, after going to the ground 144 kilometers from the finish line. Primoz Roglic was also hit hard, who also lost those 55 seconds compared to Pogacar and Thomas.
14 seconds behind the leading group led by the winner Merlier, entered Enric Mas (Movistar Team), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) or Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic). But it was the pleasant face of the day for the Spanish team, with Miguel Ángel López down and arriving with Roglic, at 1:21, backed by boss Alejandro Valverde.
It was chaos, an absolute lack of stage control. Falls as a result of hooks and sharpeners with a wet and dry floor. This time no spectator caused the sneak, but the speed of the group and a rather dangerous winding route did. And, in the fight for the stage, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) went to the ground, throwing Primoz Roglic (BORA-Hansgrohe), in a downhill finish with a possibly avoidable curve.
While it is true that Ewan tried to go inside Philipsen and fell for being too bold and aggressive, the arrival had crumbs. And it was filming at a thousand an hour, after hunting down the last escapees of the day at just over 5 of the finish line; Jelle Wallays (Cofidis), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citröen) and Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels-KTM).
Ewan stayed on the ground for quite a long time, and it remains to be seen if he can continue. Like Thomas, Roglic or the rest of the fallen who did cross the finish line but were very bruised and beaten. Neither will the Dutchman Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma), involved in the 37 kilometer crash with Thomas, nor Jack Haig, leader of the Bahrain-Victorious, leave, having to leave.
This Tuesday, the fourth stage will be another opportunity to finish the sprint unless a getaway manages to reach Fougères after the 150.4 kilometers that separates the finish line from the start in Redon. Another day in which we will be more aware of possible incidents or falls and hope that this Tour calms down before leaving more ‘broken’ along the way.