Falls again mar Tour de France as Tim Merlier wins stage
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PONTIVY – Race favourites Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas, as well as ace sprinters Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan were all involved in nasty crashes before Tim Merlier won a drama-filled stage three of the Tour de France on Monday.
Merlier's teammate Mathieu van der Poel kept hold of the overall lead on a brutal day of racing peppered with falls on the rain-slick, narrow winding roads in Brittany with Thomas dislocating a shoulder and 2020 runner-up Roglic losing valuable time.
With two mass pile-ups marring stage one and an ensuing hunt for the mystery culprit French police have vowed to catch up with, followed by the thrill and raw emotion of Van der Poel winning one for his illustrious cycling family on stage two, drama was always likely to be coming round the next corner.
And so it proved on the seafront at the Plage de Testel, 2018 champion Thomas losing his concentration and hitting the ground so hard he dislocated a shoulder before making it back to the peloton with the help of three teammates.
Scenes of Thomas shaking his legs when having his shoulder put back in by medics will live long in the memory.
Slovenia's Roglic hit the tarmac hip first with 10km to go and while shaken he also limited his losses with the help of teammates. Although his Tour is not finished, he now has time to make up on Tadej Pogacar and Thomas.
The worst fall came in the home straight with Caleb Ewan hitting Merlier's back wheel at over 80kph and taking Slovak sprint specialist Sagan down with him, the pair sliding for tens of metres on the tarmac.
Ewan's main rival from FDJ, Arnaud Demarre, had also fallen on a bend just outside Pontivy and his manager Marc Madiot was furious.
"Kids, families, mothers are watching this, will mothers want their kids to cycle? We have been speaking about this for years, this isn't cycling, what condition is Ewan in," said an impassioned Madiot.