Tim Merlier sprints to stage win as Tadej Pogacar retains Giro d’Italia lead

The race moves back into the hills on Friday with a 157km stage from Mortegliano to Sappada

Tim Merlier triumphed in a chaotic sprint to win stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia in Padova as Tadej Pogacar remained safe in the race leader’s pink jersey.

Stage three winner Merlier took the victory by half a wheel from Jonathan Milan, with both having come around Kaden Groves who had to settle for third.

A technical finish to the stage saw several sprinters become detached from their lead-out men on the approach the line, and both Merlier and Milan started well back after getting out of position.

“The last kilometre was really fast and I was a bit surprised already after the corners I was in the last five or six wheels,” Merlier said. “But when I found my moment I started my sprint, I had to go around but I made it in the end.”


The sprint finish saw no change at the top of the general classification, with Pogacar seven minutes 43 seconds clear of Dani Martinez, with Geraint Thomas another 23 seconds back in third with three stages remaining.

After several tough days in the mountains, the 178km stage from Fiera di Primiero offered some welcome respite to the general classification contenders, with much of the first half of the stage downhill before the long run into Padova.

Mikkel Honore and Mirco Maestri were among four riders to join a breakaway, but they were never offered much rope by sprint teams determined not to miss a much-needed opportunity – their last before Rome in Sunday.

The race moves back into the hills on Friday with a 157km stage from Mortegliano to Sappada.