May 20, 2022

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Merlier sprints to victory in Tirreno-Adriatico second stage

Merlier sprints to victory in Tirreno-Adriatico second stage

Tim Merlier won the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday after coming out on top of a rapid bunch sprint in the Tuscan countryside to claim his first victory of the season.

Alpecin–Fenix rider Merlier saw off a host of contenders, including Peter Sagan in the final metres of the longest stage of the seven-day race, a 219-kilometre run between Camaiore and Sovicille.

The Belgian, a stage winner at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia last season, came off three-time world champion Sagan’s wheel to take the win at the last, with Olav Kooij also pipping the Slovak veteran to the line.

“It feels really good… I’m happy I can take the first victory here in Italy,” said Merlier.

“It was really hectic again… In the end it was just the guys of the team bringing me in a good position and it was all for myself –- I needed to sprint to the finish.

“We already have the first victory, that was the goal of the week, and now we’ll go for more.”

Little changed at the top of the general classification with Filippo Ganna leading Remco Evenepoel by 11 seconds and race favourite Tadej Pogacar now 17 seconds behind after earning a bonus second in the intermediate sprint.

Italian Davide Bais took the King of the Mountains jersey after beating compatriot Davide Gabburo to the top of the La Pineta climb.

That duo were part of an early break as the race trudged through largely flat terrain for the first 90 kilometres.

By the time Bais began his descent from La Pineta, with 60km to go, the peloton containing the big hitters for the final sprint were around 2min 20sec behind a five-man leading group.

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Bais and teammate Francesco Gavazzi stayed out ahead until the race entered its final 20 kilometres, when they were overtaken by UAE rider Marc Soler, the 2018 Paris-Nice winner making a solo burst for the lead.

Soler built up a gap of 35 second while winding through Colonna di Montarrenti and down towards a flat 9km run into Sovicille, but was caught and overtaken by the peloton with 3km to go before Merlier claimed the victory in the charge for the line.

Wednesday’s third stage takes the riders on an undulating 170km run from Murlo to Terni.