Crashes again took center stage at the Tour de France as the peloton slogged through another series of disasters on Monday’s stage 3. Multiple star riders hit the deck before Belgian sprinter Tim Merlier escaped with the win.
Geraint Thomas crashed and temporarily dislocated his shoulder just 40 kilometers into the stage, on wet roads. Primož Roglič went down inside of 10km to go, and in what looked to be a replay of the 2021 Paris-Nice was seen chasing in tattered black and yellow kit. Narrowly escaping harm, but losing time when he was caught behind a crash Tadej Pogačar was one of the few, lucky unscathed GC contenders.
Here’s what the stars of the race had to say about the brutal day on the bike:
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates): 6th, at 00:39
Defending champion Tadej Pogačar was held up by a crash before the finish, but avoided going down himself. He finished 39 seconds down on Merlier.
“That wasn’t a nice day, some rivals lost time but you don’t want to see that,” said Pogačar.” It was not a good day. We saw too many falls, and it was really chaotic. When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t know how long I had lost, or if I had kept the white jersey. I heard that some of my opponents had fallen and wasted time, but that’s not what we want to see. These first steps were really stressful and we hope it will calm down soon.”
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma): 159th, at 25:28
U.S. rider Sepp Kuss was charged with protecting Roglič all day. Kuss’ Jumbo-Visma team saw multiple calamities on Monday as teammate Robert Gesink crashed and abandoned. Then, Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk crashed as well.
“First there was the fall and the abandonment of Robert Gesink, it’s really a shame, but we had to stay focused,” said Kuss. “Then there was this fall, in the end, it was really a bad day.
“From the back when Roglič fell, I saw him on the ground. It wasn’t so much panic, we changed bikes and tried to get back as quickly as possible, but we couldn’t do it a lot so close to the finish. The final was really dangerous, there were a lot of riders on the ground, that’s not what we want to see,” Kuss added.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), 68th, at 8:16
Even Peter Sagan was impacted by the crashes. And in the final 300, superstar sprinter Caleb Ewan touched wheels with a rider in the Alpecin-Fenix sprint train lined up for stage-winner Tim Merlier. Ewan went down hard, and in the process fractured his clavicle and also took out Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
“We were expecting a nervous and tense stage but this one became absolutely hectic after the intermediate sprint. I was feeling well, the guys, and especially Niels, did a fantastic job in keeping me safe and positioning me for the sprint. I was in a very good place in the final stretch to the finish line, ready to contest the stage, but, unfortunately, I crashed with Caleb Ewan. I managed to get up, ride my bike and cross the finish line but, of course, it wasn’t the way I wanted. I hope all riders involved in the day’s crashes are OK,” Sagan said.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 2nd, at 00:08
The world champion narrowly missed hitting the tangled Sagan and Ewan, just a few dozen meters from the finish line.
“That was a mentally shattering day, I’m glad it’s over,” said Alaphilippe.
Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo): 26th, at 2:26
Toms Skujiņš, offered some relieved comments about the stage.
“That was a bit of a hectic day but it could have ended worse for us. Our guys stayed upright, and there’s almost 18 days to go,” Skujiņš said. “[Mollema]” rode over Roglic wheel and still didn’t crash. I was already prepared to jump off my bike and give him my wheel but luckily the bike was fine.”