The third stage was marked by the victory of Belgian Tim Merlier at Pontivy and by repeated falls.
The Breton triptych at the start of the Tour de France was one of all emotions. After Julian Alaphilippe’s yellow jersey and the maddening pilots on Saturday, the tribute to Poupou offered by his grandson Mathieu Van der Poel on Sunday, the crossing of Morbihan from Lorient to Pontivy (182.9 km) offered us on Monday a scary slaughter game.
On arrival, punctuated in the sprint by the Belgian Tim Merlier, led by the yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel transformed into a luxury pitcher, there were just as many wounds and bumps as the sprinters happy to cross the line.
In this final stretch, concluding a day of winding roads and oozing with rain, it was the big favorite of the day, the Australian Caleb Ewan, five-time stage winner in the last two years, who crashed to the ground (in company of Peter Sagan, the sevenfold green jersey) and gave up in stride with a broken collarbone.
Less than three kilometers earlier, it was the defending champion, the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who had bitten the dust, without too much damage, unlike the Australian Jack Haig and the French Bryan Coquard, who fell with him.
However, harder was the fall of his enemy brother Primoz Roglic, who had fallen into the ditch less than ten kilometers from Pontivy and crossed the line, torn shorts, 1’22 ”after the winner of the day. Meanwhile, the French Arnaud Démare, one of the favorites for the final explanation, had also hit the tarmac.
If we add that at the start of the stage, the winner of the 2018 Tour, Geraint Thomas, customary of the fact, had shown the way by going to the mat before reintegrating the package under good escort, shoulder dislocated, we would almost forget. With this victory for Tim Merlier, already rewarded last month in the second stage of the Giro, his Alpecin-Fenix team won two out of three stages in this edition and kept the Yellow Jersey.
On arrival, Marc Madiot, the manager of the Groupama FDJ team, gravely summed up the general impression: “ Tonight after seeing this show, if I’m a parent, I don’t want my son to become a professional cyclist. What state is Ewan in? And the others before? We have to find solutions. We can’t go on like this anymore. It’s not cycling. »
Mathieu Van der Poel, who keeps his yellow jersey with eight seconds ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and 31 over Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz – now de facto leader of the Ineos Grenadiers – admitted the dangerousness of this start of the Tour: “ It was dangerous in the last 50 kilometers. I did the whole end at the front of the peloton as much to avoid falling as to bring my teammates. »
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