Tour de France: Tim Merlier victorious after another crash-marred stage

UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar drops in general classification

Tim Merlier clinched his maiden stage win in the Tour de France as he led a superb one-two finish for Alpecin-Fenix after a crash-littered day three of the race on Monday.

The Belgian clinched the 189.9km flat stage from Lorient to Pontivy from fellow countryman and teammate Jasper Philipsen with Arkea-Samsic’s French rider Nacer Bouhanni in third.

Another of Merlier’s Alpecin-Fenix teammate Mathieu van der Poel finished seventh to retain the yellow jersey for a second consecutive day.

Tadej Pogacar, the UAE Team Emirates star and defending champion, dropped down three places in general classification to sixth.

“I’m living a dream, I think,” Merlier said. “After the Giro [d’Italia stage win], 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.

“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 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.”

The crash close to the finishing line was between Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan with around a dozen riders in a sprint to the line.

The Australian appeared to catch the wheel of Merlier as he launched his sprint, and took Sagan down as he fell.

It was reported Ewan has suffered a broken collarbone and won’t continue with the Tour and his dream of winning a stage in every Grand Tour this year seems sadly over.

Earlier, Jumbo-Visma’s GC contender Primoz Roglic suffered the most when he went down heavily.

Roglic was on the left hand side of the bunch and fell clear of most other riders. He was helped back by two team-mates and continued to race even as they lost around time.

According to the Jumbo-Visma sports director Frans Maassen, last year’s Tour de France runner up was in bad shape and was being taken to hospital to have his tailbone checked.

“Roglic is not in good shape,” he said. “I'm not a doctor, but he has a tailbone problem. He has been taken to hospital for examination.”

Another rider among many others to suffer in an earlier crash was Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers.

The Welshman also appeared to have suffered a bad injury to his right shoulder but remounted with the help of his support team to continue to the finishing line.