Tirreno-Adriatico stage 2: Tim Merlier on top with superb sprint from the bunch
Filippo Ganna retained the overall lead, with no change to the general classification in the top eight.
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Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) raced clear of the big bunch for the Tirreno-Adriatico stage 3 win.
While Peter Sagan (Team TotalEnergies) looked to be in perfect position to take the win, the three-time world champion faded in the final 50m and ultimately finished in fourth, behind Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange-Jayco).
“It feels good to win for the first time this year, I was already in form but I didn’t have the results yet,” Merlier commented. “First I had to survive the mountains then the team put me in a very good position.”
On the longest stage of the race, at 219km, two Bardiani-CSF riders, two Eolo-Kometa riders, and a single representative from Drone-Hopper were off the front with as much as a seven-and-a-half-minute advantage.
The quintet worked well until about 62km to go when Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) went off the front in search of KOM points on the only categorized climb of the day. His teammate, Francesco Gavazzi, joined him on the following descent.
Ineos Grenadiers led Filippo Ganna in the overall lead and Lotto-Soudal, with sprinter Caleb Ewan in tow, ratcheted up the pace at 45km from the finish.
This pace made things hard-going for Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) who yo-yoed off the back on several small rollers, eventually making his way into the safety of the bunch with teammates for the final 20km or so.
Nearly under the banner indicating 20km remaining, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) rocketed off the front of the group taking Anthony Perez (Cofidis) with him, racing past the two Eolo riders who were the remains of the breakaway.
Perez quickly abandoned this flier and Soler was left out on his own.
The Spaniard caught the attention of Groupama-FDJ who led the chase, assisted by Arkéa-Samsic for the following 17km.
Ganna’s race leader’s jersey was briefly seen on the front into the final 3km before the sprinter’s teams took over.
TotalEnergies brought the three-time former world champion Sagan into perfect position alongside current world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) for a brief instant before lighting up the sprint.
Sagan gave Merlier the perfect leadout when the Belgian rider came off his team’s wheels, but faded in the closing 50m as Groves and Kooij battled for podium scraps.
📸 Say cheese 😃
📊 Le classifiche complete | Complete rankings 👉 https://t.co/3DLWRYRWCK#TirrenoAdriatico pic.twitter.com/kcY74rVIop
— Tirreno Adriatico (@TirrenAdriatico) March 8, 2022
Results will be available once stage has completed.