Merlier reigns among the crashes and Van der Poel retains the yellow jersey

Road 28/06/21 18:03 Migue A.

After a historic day in which some debts with history were settled, the third stage arrives: 183 kilometres on a profile with many similarities with yesterday's.

Another chaotic day at the office

All this at a low altitude, which presaged a search for breakaways and a role for the peloton as usual in the previous days: without being permissive, without a lack of control.


As we said, the peloton had set an impressive pace over the previous two days, with both stages being decided in the last kilometre with attacks by Alaphilippe and Van der Poel. There was one small difference today: the last wall, Guern, was too far from the finish line for an attack to be successful. But who can say for sure, given what we've seen so far, and speaking of Bretagne, which always surprises with its narrow asphalt and unpredictable weather.


That oceanic weather made an appearance right at the start: it required some warm clothing and rain jackets, but without going excessive. And in five minutes there was already a first breakaway: Schelling responded to the attacks to defend his mountain jersey, and a group was formed with the Bora rider, Wallays, Schar, Barthe and Chevalier. All this, as we say, in the first stage that invited to the sprint. There were huge doubts that the teams with sprinters would allow any kind of rampage.


When the gap was close to two minutes, the rain that had been predicted appeared, and in the midst of all the commotion, so many trips down to the cars to get a raincoat, the first lapses. And the crashes, of course: in this case, one of the favourites. Geraint Thomas fell when only 40 kilometres had been ridden. In the images, we could see that his wrist was hurting, but he quickly picked up the pace to rejoin the peloton thanks to some brilliant teamwork. However, as soon as he arrived, he changed bikes and returned to the peloton. Not so lucky was Jumbo's Gesink, who had to abandon the race because of the same crash.


With 100 kilometres to go, the gap remained at 2 minutes, with four escapees who were going to attempt the challenge with everything to lose.

Crashes, chaos, nerves and victory for Merlier

The average was close to 45 kilometres per hour the whole time. At that speed, with wet sections and a side wind, extreme caution is required. An example of this was the slip between Bennet and Dlamini, who went to the ground due to a slip-up, although they were able to get going again. In addition, the road gets dirty and flats are a frequent problem. Julian Alaphilippe suffered the most serious flat, with no major consequences, although others, such as Greipel, also saw their tyres go flat. No major incidents other than a change of bike and a squeeze to rejoin the peloton.


But we insist, the wind and the water can make anyone nervous. There was tension in the peloton, which also faced some very twisty stretches of road, with changes in width. In the meantime, two teams were setting the pace and controlling the race. Above all, Deceuninck Quick Step, with Kasper Asgreen as the driving force; on the part of Education First, Stefan Bissegger was the only one to take minutes off Alaphilippe's team at the head of the peloton.


But it was getting to be all about Cavendish, Sagan, Ewan and Pedersen. The Tour's own poll gave Ewan favourite status, and Van der Poel's name was on fire on social media, although he is obviously not a specialist at the level of Ewan or Cavendish. The narrow road did not invite more breakaways, but a good pace of the peloton to subtract the minute that separated them from the escapees 20 kilometres from the finish. Wallays, Schär, Barthe and Chevalier remained in the breakaway.

As we say, as we have seen in the previous two days, caution and nervousness were the biggest enemies. Small touches, one of which sent Alaphilippe to the grass, but he kept his balance.


It was even difficult to follow the peloton on the narrow wooded road to Pontivy, but everything seemed more or less under control and the gap between the escapees was decreasing kilometre by kilometre. Meanwhile, there were other trips across the grass, including that of Miguel Angel Lopez, who swapped bikes with a team-mate to try to save the situation. But bad luck for Roglic.


He went to the ground with a crash and stopped his whole team. From this point on, it was impossible to be more nervous: Jumbo was at full throttle to try to make up the gap and Roglic was angry and mumbling. One of the favourites on the wire. He lost a minute and twenty seconds, a huge amount, so the chase continued.


With 7 kilometres to go, it was chaos. The peloton chased the breakaway and continued with its hammering pace; behind, the Jumbo was struggling to save its leader. We know that saving a bad day often means saving a Tour. It's all about keeping going when things go wrong and waiting for the ripe ones to come along. They caught up with Miguel Angel Lopez's group with five kilometres to go, but the peloton was going at 72 per hour.


And that's what happened: another huge crash ahead and between the catena, Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian started very fast and saved the situation with the help of the team. And even more: in the middle of the sprint, Ewan went down and Sagan was behind. Sagan got up quickly, Ewan took a little longer, perhaps because of the weight of guilt: he wanted to take the inside when there was no gap and dragged Sagan out.


A tremendously troubled stage, loss of time by the favourites and an Alpecin that is doing very well. A stage for Tim Merlier and Van der Poel retains the lead with even more advantage, more leader with the loss of half a minute of Pogacar and Thomas, and a minute of Roglic, Lopez and company. Tomorrow to recover and the day after to try to reduce this minute in the time trial.


  1. Merlier, T. - Alpecin | 4:01:28
  2. Philipsen, J. - Alpecin | m.t.
  3. Bouhanni, N. - Arkéa Samsic | m.t.


  1. Van der Poel, M. - Alpecin | 12:58:53
  2. Alaphilippe, J. - Deceuninck Quick Step | +8
  3. Carapaz, R. - Ineos | +31"



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Merlier reina entre las caídas y Van der Poel mantiene el maillot amarillo