Tim merlier secures victory in giro d’italia stage 3.

In a thrilling finish to the third stage of the Giro d’Italia on Monday, Tim Merlier outpaced Jonathan Milan in a bunch sprint, clinching victory after a daring attempt by race leader Tadej Pogacar to steal the win.

UAE rider Pogacar launched a surprise burst in the final two kilometers of the 166km stage from Novara to Fossano, aiming for his second consecutive stage win.

However, Merlier, representing Soudal–Quick-Step, showcased remarkable resilience to claim his second stage victory in the Giro, adding to his triumph in 2021, the same year he secured his sole stage win in the Tour de France.

“It was the toughest victory so far. The final was incredibly challenging. When I reached 300 meters, I knew I had to push,” commented Merlier.

“I noticed Milan initiating his sprint on the left, and I knew I had to be either first or second. I’m delighted to have won this one.”

Pogacar remains the firm favorite for overall victory in his debut Giro d’Italia campaign, having dominated the previous stage and narrowly missed out on victory in the opening stages.

The two-time Tour de France champion made a decisive move after responding to an attack by EF Education–EasyPost’s Mikkel Honore. Initially, it seemed Pogacar and his closest rival for the pink jersey, Geraint Thomas, would contend for the win.

However, they were reeled in by the peloton just before the finish line, allowing Merlier to snatch victory ahead of Milan and Biniam Girmay from Intermarche-Wanty.

“We attempted to maintain our momentum, but I never truly believed we could reach the finish line,” admitted Pogacar.

“In the end, I gave it a shot, but 400 meters from the finish is still a considerable distance to cover.”

Former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, representing Ineos, currently trails Pogacar by 46 seconds in the general classification, emerging as the primary challenger for overall victory.

“We aimed to stay clear of any trouble,” remarked a visibly fatigued Thomas.

“When I saw Honore and Pog go, I thought, ‘I might as well join.’ But it was a tough battle; he really pushed me. I was just trying to hold on to his wheel.

“I glanced back and was surprised by the sizable gap, but I knew they would catch up. It was quite a different experience.

“It’s been a good start, and I’m feeling okay. Hopefully, I can continue to progress.”

The peloton faces a grueling 190km journey from Acqui Terme to Andora on the Italian Riviera on Tuesday. Sprinters are expected to seize another opportunity in a stage featuring the famed Capo Mele climb, renowned from the Monument race Milan-San Remo.