Tim Merlier. Picture: POOL via REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE
Tim Merlier. Picture: POOL via REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE

Pontivy — Belgian Tim Merlier won a crash-littered third stage of the Tour de France on Monday, a 182.9km ride from Lorient to Pontivy, as two of the overall favourites to win the race, Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic, came down heavily in separate incidents.

Merlier of Alpecin-Fenix led a team one-two ahead of compatriot Jasper Philipsen in a sprint also marred by a crash in which pre-stage favourite Caleb Ewan hit the deck in the final metres and slid along the tarmac on his back.

France’s Nacer Bouhanni came third.

Slovenian Roglic, second in Paris last year, crossed the line more than one minute 21 seconds off the pace and almost one minute behind defending champion Tadej Pogacar, who was involved in another separate crash.

Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

Richard Carapaz was the best placed of the pre-race favourites as he was with the leading group alongside France’s Julian Alaphilippe.

Slovenian Pogacar was 26 seconds behind in a group that also featured 2018 champion Geraint Thomas, who hurt his shoulder when he crashed on a wet road 37km into the stage.

The most affected appeared to be Roglic, who fell hard on his left side 10km from the line, sustaining bruises on his leg and shoulder.



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