Tim Merlier takes victory on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico

The Alpecin-Fenix rider rode confidently to win the first bunch sprint of the race

Tirreno-Adriatico Tim Merlier wins
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won his first race of his 2022 season with his victory on the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, biding his time perfectly to power through the field towards the finish line. 

The Belgian emerged from behind Peter Sagan's (TotalEnergies) wheel in the closing stage, taking advantage after the Slovakian had launched himself early in an attempt to cross the line first.

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) managed to overtake Sagan on the line too, with the three-time world champion finishing fourth. 

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) still leads the GC after the second stage, 11 seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). 

HOW IT HAPPENED

A hilly day with 2,150m of climbing across a 219km, stage two is the longest of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico. However, with a relatively flat finish, the stage presented plenty of opportunities for the fast men of the peloton to attack and gain an advantage on their rivals.

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) entered the second stage as the leader of the general classification, after superbly winning the ITT on the first day with a time of 15-17. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) came in ten seconds behind Ganna in second-place, while Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) only lost seven seconds to Evenepoel when he crossed the line. 

Within just 5km of the start of the race, Johnatan Cañaveral and Davide Gabburo (both Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Davide Bais and Francesco Gavazzi (both Eolo-Kometa), and Umberto Marengo (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) formed the day's breakaway, building up a gap between them and the rest of the peloton. 

The five riders maintained a regular five-minute gap until the final 50km - which went up to eight minutes at one stage - when the two Eolo-Kometa riders dropped the other three riders on the climb towards La Pineta and the following descent. 

With 20km left, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) both attacked, successfully bridging the gap between the peloton and the breakaway riders. In fact, Soler pushed the pace solo up the final climb of the race, trying to create a gap between himself and the initial breakaway group and peloton.

The Spaniard built 30 seconds between himself and the peloton with 13km in the race left, but with the main group all working together - especially Groupama-FDJ - in the prevailing wind, his attack failed to stick, the seconds gradually coming down on the flat road. 

With Soler caught at the crucial left-hander at 2.8km to go, each team's lead-out riders started to jostle for position. Both Ganna and Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) made their attempts to pull along their quick men, but it was Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl making the most concerted surge with Davide Ballerini waiting in the wings to pounce.

However, Peter Sagan sent an early attack of his own as the course swept round to the right, only for Tim Merlier to come off his tail. Coming off the bend, the Belgian picked up the most momentum and managed to launch himself off the back of Sagan's wheel, grabbing victory in the final 50m of the day.

Both Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and Kayden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) managed to steal a nose on the Slovakian too, crossing the line just ahead of Sagan who tried to hold on to his podium spot as best as he can.

The result represents Merlier's first win of the season, half a year on from when he last won on the Benelux Tour at the beginning of September. Ganna maintains his first-placed position on general classification after the second stage, but with plenty more difficult climbing courses to come, expect that to all change.

RESULTS

TIRRENO-ADRIATICO 2022, STAGE TWO: CAMAIORE TO SOVICILLE (219KM)

1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 5-25-23
2. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
3. Kaden Groves (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) TotalEnergies
5. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
6. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Victorious
7. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
8. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Israel-Premier Tech
9. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
10. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team, all at same time

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO

1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, in 5-40-40
2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step AlphaVinyl, at 11 seconds
3. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 17s
4. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step AlphaVinyl, at 24s
5. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Israel - Premier Tech, at 25s
6. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM, at 28s
7. Tobias Ludviggson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ, at 32s
8. Jos Van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 33s
9. Matteo Sobrero (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 39s
10. Lawson Craddock (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco, at same time

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Hi, I'm a Trainee News Writer at Cycling Weekly. 


I have worked for Future across its various sports titles since December 2020, writing news for Cycling Weekly, FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture. I am currently studying for a NCTJ qualification alongside my role as Trainee News Writer at the company. 


Prior to joining Future I attended Cardiff University, earning a degree in Journalism & Communications.