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Tour de France chaos - Geraint Thomas loses time after heavy fall on another crash-marred Tour de France stage won by Tim Merlier - GETTY IMAGES / REUTERS

Tour de France chaos – Geraint Thomas loses time after heavy fall on another crash-marred Tour de France stage won by Tim Merlier – GETTY IMAGES / REUTERS

Tim Merlier won a dramatic stage three of the Tour de France as a string of crashes caused chaos in the final 10 kilometres.

Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic both suffered painful tumbles and lost time, defending champion Tadej Pogacar was held up by an incident inside the last four kilometres, while both Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan were denied the opportunity to contest the stage.

Ewan crashed within sight of the line, bringing down former world champion Peter Sagan in the process, as Merlier celebrated his first Tour stage victory up ahead after getting a lead-out from Mathieu van der Poel in the yellow jersey.

Cavendish had been held up behind a nasty incident on a bend around four kilometres from the finish of the 183km stage from Lorient to Pontivy.

That came after Roglic had hit the deck painfully around 10km from the line, with his Jumbo-Visma team-mates unable to get him back up to the pack despite a frantic chase.

Amid the chaos, Van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe and Richard Carapaz were the notable general classification riders to make it over the line in the front group, but there were time losses throughout the field with all but Ewan’s crash coming outside the final three kilometres.

Pogacar and Thomas were part of a group that came over the line 26 seconds down.

Merlier had been oblivious to Ewan’s crash behind as Alpecin-Fenix celebrated a second straight stage win on their Tour debut – with his team-mate Jasper Philipsen in second.

“I’m living a dream I think,” the Belgian said. “After the Giro I was already really happy and now I win a stage on the Tour, the biggest race in the world. I can’t believe it.

“[Van der Poel] said he was going to do the lead out and I said, ‘You are crazy’ but he loves to do it. Jasper took over with 700m to go so I only needed to pull for the last 150m.

“When I look around me I can’t believe there is nobody on the wheel, but you say there is a crash so that will be the reason.” PA

03:56 PM

Aussie worries

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) have not yet finished the stage. Without wanting to speculate, it looks like the pair’s Tours may be over, so if true not a great day for Australian riders. Thomas De Gendt, a team-mate of Ewan’s, told television reports that he believes the sprinter broke his collarbone.

03:45 PM

Watch: The final kilometre of today’s stage

03:37 PM

General classification update

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) keeps hold of the leader’s yellow jersey, while Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) keeps hold of his second spot while Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) has moved up to third after having managed to avoid the chaos that has, yet again, overshadowed a stage at the Tour.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) moves up to fourth at 31sec, Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) stays at fifth (+38sec) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has dropped down to sixth (+39sec).

Despite crashing earlier in the day, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) actually move up two spots but is now 1min 7sec down on general classification, while Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) dropped 16 places to 20th and is now 1min 35sec off the pace.

03:30 PM

Ewan is being attended to

I cannot say what state Caleb Ewan is in, but the Aussie is lying in the road receiving treatment. Riders are crossing the line in dribs and drabs after yet another terrifyingly frenetic finale. There are pictures of Ewan lying in the road with team-mates standing over him.

03:25 PM

Merlier wins stage three at the Tour!

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) wins the stage, his first at the Tour de France, but that, sadly, is only half of the story here today.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) crashed heavily in the finale. This may take some time to pick over. Lots of riders will not be continuing tomorrow, I fear, while there will be some big changes in the general classification.

Caleb Ewan  - APCaleb Ewan  - AP

Caleb Ewan – AP

03:22 PM

1.5km to go

Mathieu van der Poel is leading out for Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Tim Merlier, who won a stage at the recent Giro d’Italia.

03:21 PM

2.5km to go

Lotto-Soudal are drilling the pace on the front of the race while all behind them there is a trail of destruction and chaos.

03:20 PM

4km to go – another crash

Carnage. A handful of Bahrain Victorious riders have gone down quite heavily with one looking to be in quite a bad way. Not sure but that may be their general classification rider Jack Haig.

03:16 PM

7.5km to go

Primoz Roglic is around a minute down on the bunch. He has battered and bruised team-mate Tony Martin pulling for him. The former world time trial champion will need to do the race of his life if he is to ensure Roglic does not lose time on general classification.

03:14 PM

Roglic crashes!

Disaster for Jumbo-Visma who earlier today lost Robert Gesink. Their team leader Primoz Roglic has gone down quite heavily in a crash. The Slovenian did not get back to his feet too quickly, but now has two team-mates helping him chase back on. With racing going at full gas, Roglic could lose time here and with it any hope of winning the Tour. What drama, the type of drama that nobody wants to see.

03:12 PM

Crash in the peloton!

Valentin Madouas has gone down and has a Groupama-FDJ team-mate Bruno Armirail for company. A Movistar rider was also caught up in the incident.

03:10 PM

12.5km to go

Hello, here come DSM who last year, as Sunweb, had one of the best leadouts at the Tour, though frustratingly for them they were unable to finish it off. Cees Bol is their sprinter here again this year.

03:08 PM

14km to go

Maxime Chevalier is dropped by the breakaway whose lead drops to 40sec.

03:06 PM

15km to go

Wout van Aert has been working on the front, suggesting the Belgian champion will not be challenging today. Julian Alaphilippe, meanwhile, was spotted a few minutes ago practising his cyclo-cross as he went off road to move up a few places in the bunch.

03:00 PM

20km to go

The breakaway’s lead has dropped to below a minute for the fist time in a few hours as the peloton winds the pace up in anticipation for the fast and frenetic finale to today’s stage. The teams and riders will have been briefed about the fast and twisty approach to Pontivy.

02:55 PM

Remember folks, the 3km rule is in place today

02:52 PM

25km to go

Philippe Gilbert of Lotto-Soudal and Tim Declercq appear to be working together, the two sprinters’ team have perhaps formed an alliance as the make sure the pace is high. Ineos Grenadiers has Tao Geoghegan Hart drilling it on the front as they do their best to stay on the front and out of harm’s way. The British team has had a few setbacks since the Tour got under way in Brest on Saturday and will not want any more misfortune flying in their direction.

02:49 PM

27km to go

Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) drops back through the peloton to take a wheel change having suffered with a rear puncture. Laporte, the French sprinter, is an outside favourite to win today’s stage.

02:44 PM

34km to go

Though barely contested, Jelle Wallays takes a single point atop the côte de Pluméliau. As it stands, that has no impact on the top six of the mountains classification. Each rider appears more concerned at holding on for as long as possible – no doubt thinking about the day’s combativity prize which earns the winner a visit to the podium.

02:40 PM

35km to go

The breakaway is onto the second and final climb of the day, the category four côte de Pluméliau which is just 2.2-kilometres long with an average gradient of 3.1% where just one point is up for grabs.

02:36 PM

38km to go

Tim Declercq, who by his standards, has had a relatively quiet day thus far has shunted towards the front for Deceuninck-Quick Step. The diesel who may spend more time on the front of the bunch than any other rider, is grimacing as he winds the pace up on the front. Bora-Hansgrohe, Lotto-Soudal, Groupama-FDJ, BikeExchange and Jumbo-Visma are all up near the front. One of the big questions today is: will Wout van Aert be going for personal glory, or will he be asked to protect his Jumbo-Visma team-mate Primoz Roglic?

02:28 PM

45km to go

Both the four-man breakaway and the peloton is under 45km from the finish now where it is expected this stage will conclude in a sprint finish. Although there is a straight run-in to the line along the final 1,500 metres, there are a couple of tight turns in the last 3km where the road practically doubles back on itself. There is a slight cross-headwind in the final straight which, ordinarily, would favour a smaller sprinter – somebody that can get low down on their handlebars reducing that frontal drag as much as possible. In other words, a rider like Caleb Ewan and a certain Mark Cavendish.

02:17 PM

Intermediate sprint details in full . . .

02:06 PM

Cavendish shows himself

It was a fiercely contested intermediate sprint from the peloton, with Caleb Ewan taking the honours ahead of Mark Cavendish. Bodes well for the 26-year-old Briton who will be hoping to contest for the stage win in an hour or so. Can he do the improbable and add a 31st Tour stage win his his glistening palmarès? Full details to follow . . .

02:03 PM

64km to go

Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels) wins the intermediate sprint to open his account in the points classification, while team-mate Maxime Chevalier is second ahead of Michael Schär and Jelle Wallays takes fourth spot. Peloton follows in 1min 20sec.

01:59 PM

67.5km to go

The breakaway’s lead drops slightly to 1min 30sec, no doubt a result of the increase in pace of the peloton as it nears the intermediate.

Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) and Jelle Wallays - GETTY IMAGESCyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) and Jelle Wallays - GETTY IMAGES

Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) and Jelle Wallays – GETTY IMAGES

01:49 PM

75km to go

Not too much to report other than Deceuninck-Quick Step have shifted themselves towards the front of the peloton as it nears the intermediates sprint. Is Mark Cavendish really going to put in a big effort at the intermediate on a day when he could win his first Tour de France stage since 2016? We will find out in around 10km.

The four-man breakaway of Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) and Jelle Wallays (Cofidis) are holding on to their lead of 2min 5sec.

01:37 PM

85km to go: Schelling, shelled . . .

The Dutchman’s day is done. After securing the polka dot jersey by rights, Ide Schelling sits up and will wait to be reunited with his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates back in the peloton. The 23-year-old, no doubt, planning on saving a bit of energy for battles ahead. For those interested in these things, there is not one categorised climb in Tuesday’s stage, and Wednesday is a time trial, while Thursday features just one category four climb. So in theory, Schelling will most likely be wearing the jersey until Saturday or Sunday.

01:31 PM

Schelling takes lead in mountains classification

The Dutchman who was born one metre above sea level takes the lead in the mountains classification after rolling off the front of the breakaway, uncontested, to take the single point available atop the côte de Cadoudal. Providing Ide Schelling completes the stage withing the time limit and Mathieu van der Poel does not take the only other point on offer today, then the Bora-Hansgrohe will wear the maillot à pois, or polka dot jersey, by rights on Tuesday.

01:23 PM

92km to go

The breakaway is onto the first of two categorised climbs in today’s stage, the category four côte de Cadoudal. Fully expect Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) to be going for the single point at the summit, but would not be surprised if Jelle Wallays (Cofidis) trys to deny him.

01:19 PM

Immediate aftermath of Thomas’s crash

01:07 PM

103km to go

Following the two falls that led to Robert Gesink abandon and send shockwaves through the peloton after Geraint Thomas also crashed, there is thankfully a little bit of calm after the early storm in today’s stage. Incidentally, it was raining quite heavily just before I clocked on for duty, but the roads are now dry. Rain is forecast for the finale to the stage and so, on these tough and twisty Breton roads the peloton will be on high alert. After Saturday’s brutal opening stage, nobody will be wanting a repeat of the shocking scenes when around 40 riders went down in a mass pile-up.

The five-man breakaway, by the way, leads by just over two minutes.

12:45 PM

119.5km to go

Geraint Thomas has dropped back to an Ineos Grenadiers support car to get a bike change and pick up a fresh pair of sunglasses.

Geraint Thomas - APGeraint Thomas - AP

Geraint Thomas – AP

A five-man breakaway comprising Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën), Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jelle Wallays (Cofidis) lead the stage. Today’s breakaway was formed within the opening 500 metres of the stage, while Lotto-Soudal took control on the front of the peloton from the very start of the stage on behalf of their sprinter Caleb Ewan, while Groupama-FDJ (Arnaud Démare) have been helping out with the heavy lifting and Deceuninck-Quick Step have, thus far, been getting a day off from riding on the front.

12:38 PM

125km to go: Back in the pack

Geraint Thomas and his team-mates have regained contact with the peloton that contains all of the main protagonists for both the general classification at this year’s Tour de France, and the sprinters that are hoping to challenge for today’s stage.

Geraint Thomas - REUTERSGeraint Thomas - REUTERS

Geraint Thomas – REUTERS

12:30 PM

Thomas suffers suspected dislocated shoulder

Reports are coming in saying that Geraint Thomas dislocated his shoulder which although painful, may mean he escaped any serious injury. Thomas currently has three team-mates – Dylan van Baarle, Jonathan Castroviejo and Luke Rowe – helping him chase back on. This quartet trails the peloton by around 1min 30sec.

Geraint Thomas - GETTY IMAGESGeraint Thomas - GETTY IMAGES

Geraint Thomas – GETTY IMAGES

12:27 PM

Gesink abandons!

Primoz Roglic has just been dealt a massive blow after Jumbo-Visma team-mate Robert Gesink abandoned the Tour de France. The Dutchman will have been a key helper in the mountains.

Robert Gesink - GETTY IMAGESRobert Gesink - GETTY IMAGES

Robert Gesink – GETTY IMAGES

The talented mountain domestique crashed in the same incident in which Geraint Thomas went down heavily.

12:19 PM

Mixed messages

Bernhard Eisel, who is working for Eurosport reporting from the back of a motorcycle in the middle of the peloton, has just said Luke Rowe had intimated to him that he thought Geraint Thomas would not be continuing today. We will have to wait to see how this story develops. Thomas, however, is currently riding along with Rowe after a few moments ago receiving some attention from a doctor.

Geraint ThomasGeraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas

12:13 PM

Thomas back in the saddle

After being attended to, Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France winner, managed to remount and is riding again, though he does not appear to be too comfortable. The Welshman’s bib shorts have a few rips in them and the mind is cast back to last year’s Giro d’Italia when misfortune came Thomas’s way on the road to Mount Etna.

Geraint Thomas - EPAGeraint Thomas - EPA

Geraint Thomas – EPA

12:11 PM

Thomas crashes!

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) has crashed and it does not look good for the Welshman. He is sat on the floor holding his shoulder.

07:35 AM

So, what’s on today’s menu?

Following two tough stages perfectly suited to the puncheurs, today should provide the sprinters an opportunity to come to the fore. Featuring just two category four climbs – the côtes de Cadoudal and Pluméliau – and a series of little kickers, the route includes 1,524 metres of vertical elevation before dropping down into Pontivy.

Stage three profile - ASOStage three profile - ASO

Stage three profile – ASO

With just two points up for grabs in the mountains classification, you would imagine Ide Schelling will be keen, once again, on getting into the breakaway. If the Dutchman takes one point and Mathieu van der Poel takes none, then Schelling will take control of the polka dot jersey by rights. As we witnessed during Sunday’s breakaway, however, a nice little rivalry with Anthony Perez (Cofidis), who trails Schelling by a single point, has developed and so we may see round three of that particular battle on the road to Pontivy.

As fun as it is watching riders scrap over single points in the mountains classificationcompetition, today, in theory, is all about the sprinters and so we can expect a new leader in the points classification later this afternoon. With a maximum of 70 points available for any one rider – 20 at the intermediate sprint in La Fourchette and another 50 at the finish line – I think we can expect a major reshuffling of the order in the points classification.

So, who can take the stage win? Difficult to see beyond Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) who has been contesting the intermediate sprints on the opening two stages which may mean the Australian is targeting the green jersey this year, or alternatively he was just testing his legs. Either way, Ewan must be regarded as one of the day’s favourites.

Ewan is not the only sprinter able to take the victory, though. Arnaud Démare arrived as the main man for Groupama-FDJ and much will be expected of the Frenchman. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) may fancy their chances, as will a certain Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step). Now wouldn’t that be a story!

06:30 AM

Catch-up: Highlights of yesterday’s stage . . .

. . . can be watched here . . .

06:30 AM


Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage two at the Tour de France, the 182.9-kilometre stage from Lorient to Pontivy.

Well, what an emotional stage win it was for Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) on Sunday who emulated his father Adrie by taking the maillot jaune, the leader’s yellow jersey, in emphatic style in Mûr-de-Bretagne. It was Van der Poel’s grandfather, though, who was on most people’s minds when he crossed the line following a trademark display of power and punch. Raymond Poulidor, who died in November 2019 just after his grandson’s breakthrough season on the road – Van der Poel had already won Dutch national, European and world cyclo-cross championships – famously never wore the yellow jersey despite winning seven Tour stages and finishing second three times, a feat that earned him the nickname the ‘Eternal Second’. Poulidor was a hugely popular rider in France and was very close to Van der Poel who, understandably, allowed himself to drop that steely guard of his in an emotional post-race interview.

Much has been said and written about Van der Poel over the past 18 months or so, his tactics have been criticised, his riding style likened to a threshing machine, he has been accused of arrogance and of being a bit of a cold fish. All fair points to a certain degree. However, when Van der Poel let that guard down in Mûr-de-Bretagne on Sunday afternoon, I think we all saw something quite wonderful: the human side to this quite supreme athlete. It would take a man or woman with a heart chiselled out of the pink granite local to Brittany to not have been moved by Van der Poel’s post-race tears.

Mathieu van der Poel - GETTY IMAGESMathieu van der Poel - GETTY IMAGES

Mathieu van der Poel – GETTY IMAGES

Van der Poel will wear his first maillot jaune at the Tour during today;s stage, the Dutchman leading the general classification by 8sec with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) in second spot, while defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) is third another 5sec back. If you are looking for Geraint Thomas‘s name, then you will not see it in the top 10 after the Welshman dropped 10 places down to 20th. Sunday was not the greatest day for Ineos Grenadiers who did lot of work on the front on the approach to Mûr-de-Bretagne with very little to show for it.

Alaphilippe may have lost the maillot jaune to Van der Poel, but the Frenchman did keep hold of the maillot vert, green jersey, as the overall leader in the points classification. Incidentally, Alaphilippe, who actually took the lead in the points classification on Saturday after winning stage one, has now led the four Tour classifications at some point in their career – overall, points, mountains and youth – an achievement that that has only ever been done by five others.

Van der Poel also leads the mountains classification ahead of Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) despite the Dutch compatriots being on the same number of points. Van der Poel edges his compatriot by virtue of the fact that he was the first over the category three Mûr-de-Bretagne twice, while Schelling led the way over just one climb of the same ranking once during Saturday’s stage. It will be Schelling, however, who will wear the maillot à pois, or polka dot jersey, today.

Defending champion Pogacar is the highest placed young rider on general classification and so will once again wear the white jersey.