Giro d'Italia stage 3 as it happened: Tim Merlier wins first sprint stage

With a predominantly flat course, today's stage looks to be one for the sprinters

Good morning and welcome to the live blog for stage three of the Giro d'Italia. After yesterday's summit finish, which saw Tadej Pogačar take the pink jersey, today is the first opportunity for the fast men.

I'm Emma, and I'll be bringing you all the action from here today. 


Today's stage begins in Novara, a city in the north of Italy, close to Milan. The riders will race 166km to the medieval town of Fossano. It's 16 degrees and overcast at the start.

Stage profile stage three

Here's today's stage profile. A couple of ramps, but largely flat.

(Image credit: Giro D'Italia)

Bad news for Eddie Dunbar (Jayco AlUla), who has abandoned the Giro. The Irish rider was involved in a crash yesterday, alongside teammate Filippo Zana and sprinter Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike). Dunbar sustained an injury to his right kneecap, and did not start today's stage.

146km to go: There's a leisurely atmosphere in the peloton, with riders chatting and no breakaway attempts so far.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is resplendent in pink today, after winning yesterday's stage. "I like the outfit," he said in a pre-race interview. "Some people don't like the shorts, but I actually like it. Let's see how many days I keep wearing it."

Let's take a look at some of the favourites today:

104km to go: Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché–Wanty) and Davide Ballerini (Astana Qazaqstan) have 35 seconds on the peloton after Calmejane made a move off the front.

92km to go: Ballerini, who had little intention of staying out in front, has rejoined the peloton. The bunch is back together again.

In case you're wondering, Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) picked up the remaining point for the Maglia Azzurra on the Lu climb. 

87km to go: Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) takes 12 points for the intermediate sprint. Kooij comes second and Merlier third.

83km to go: Things are beginning to heat up. A large group of around 25 sprinters and lead-out riders have gone off the front, with Alpecin, Intermarché, Quick-Step, Visma, Tudor and Bardiani represented. They have 1:40 on the peloton.

79km to go: Filippo Fiorelli (VF Group–Bardiani–CSF–Faizanè), who wears the sprinter's jersey, has a broken spoke on his rear wheel, and raises his hand for assistance. He's offered support from neutral service, but he waits for his team car.

69km to go: Meanwhile, the group off the front has spurred the peloton into action. Movistar and Polti Kometa are leading the chase.

69km to go: Alpecin give Kaden Groves a full lead-out for the next intermediate sprint at Montegrosso d'Asti, but Milan easily claims the win, coming past on the right-hand side with Merlier on his wheel. A sign of things to come?

Let's take a look at some of the best images from the day so far.

44km to go: Things are finally coming back together. The front group has 9 seconds, and is about to be caught.

42km to go: Now that the peloton is back together, Ineos take over at the front. The average speed is up from 38 to 50.7 kilometres per hour. 

32.5km to go: Normal service has resumed: teams jostle for position at the front of the peloton, with GC contenders also keen to remain in the mix.

23km to go: Just over a kilometre to go until the next intermediate sprint at Cherasco. Things are about to kick off again.

21 km to go: There are bonus seconds to play for at Cherasco. Pogačar is first to make a move, but is beaten by Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers), who picks up three seconds. Pogačar takes two, and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) takes one.

18km to go: Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) has abandoned the race. Updates when we have them.

Here's a reminder of how the stage will finish. There's a 5.3% uphill drag from -4.5km until the -3km mark, where there's also a sharp bend. After that, it's a straight, flat finale.

12 km to go: We're approaching the final 10 kilometres of stage 3, and it's a fight to be at the front. The pace is explosive - oh, and it's raining.

8 km to go: It's becoming a real contest for position at the front, both from sprinters and GC contenders. Ineos are on the left of the peloton, with Alpecin–Deceuninck and Kaden Groves in the centre. They're flying at 57 kilometres per hour.

7 km to go: As the peloton descend, it begins to string out. The tarmac is wet, and riders are not taking chances on the corners.

4.5km to go: The peloton are starting the final climb at 55 kilometres per hour. The speed is making things difficult for the sprinters.

3.4km to go: Nobody is attacking full gas, but Ineos are pushing the pace to keep Geraint Thomas' GC hopes safe.

2.8km to go:  EF Education-Easypost attack, followed by Pogačar. Thomas is forced to react, but this is not what the sprinters want.

1.4km to go: Mikkel Frølich Honoré (EF Education-Easypost), Tadej Pogačar and Geraint Thomas have a gap on the peloton.

1km to go: The peloton turn the final corner. There's still a big gap to close. Honoré has been dropped from the front three.

Tim Merlier wins the sprint!

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) narrowly beats Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek), winning stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia.

The top three are in: 

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