Merlier masters sprint finish to win Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia

Tim Merlier of Soudal Quick-Step clinched victory in a riveting sprint finish in Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia, which spanned 166km from Novara to Fossano. In a fiercely contested finale, Merlier outpaced Jonathan Milan of Lidl-Trek and Biniam Girmay of Intermarché-Wanty to secure the win, while UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar retained the Maglia Rosa, extending his lead in the overall standings.

The stage unfolded with high drama as a late attack in the final kilometres nearly reshaped the day’s results. Pogacar, along with Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers and Mikkel Honoré of EF Education-EasyPost, made a bold move on the last climb, distancing themselves from the peloton. The trio was reeled in just 300 metres from the finish line, setting the stage for the sprinters to battle it out in a chaotic rush to the finish.

Merlier, overcoming the challenges of the final hill where he found himself struggling, credited his teammate Julian Alaphilippe for crucial support that helped him regain position for the sprint. “This is my hardest victory so far,” Merlier said shortly after the race. “It was a really tough final. Julian was there for me when I was in a difficult situation on the last hill. The team’s effort was tremendous.”

The Belgian sprinter also paid tribute to the late Wouter Weylandt, dedicating his victory to the former professional cyclist who tragically passed away during the Giro in 2011. “I remember it as if it happened yesterday,” Merlier reflected. “I dedicated my first Giro stage win to him and I did it again today. His best friend Iljo Keisse is one of our sports directors here. He’s not forgotten.”

Meanwhile, Pogacar, who extended his overall lead by taking bonus seconds during an intermediate sprint earlier in the stage, shared his thoughts on the unexpected developments in the finale. “It was a really good attack by Mikkel Honoré,” Pogacar explained. “I didn’t expect it. I didn’t attack; I just followed and found myself in the leading group in the last 3km. It was a good effort by G and Mikkel. I was just stretching the legs at the front.”

Despite the excitement and potential for a breakaway victory, Pogacar acknowledged the nature of the stage, emphasising the sprinters’ right to contest the finish. “It was a sprinters’ day,” he said. “To gain time in the intermediate sprint was also not my intention, but I had to react when I saw Ineos moving. It’s always better if I take one second on Thomas than the other way round.”

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 3 result

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All photo credits: LaPresse