Giro | 18th step | Tim Merlier (Soudal – Quick-Step) winner in the sprint in Padua

Merlier gets his revenge. Regularly beaten by Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) in the races since the start of this 107th edition, the Belgian sprinter from Soudal Quick-Step this time took advantage of a disagreement in the American collective to offer himself a second bouquet on the Giro 2024, Thursday in Padua. Despite a devastating last 100 meters, the wearer of the cyclamen jersey came to die on the line half a wheel behind the winner. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) completes the podium in a calm 18th stage although swallowed up at high speed. No impact overall, Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates) remains a very solid pink jersey.

The day after a grueling sequence for the bodies, the 18th stage between Fiera di Primiero and Padua (178 kilometers), should allow the riders to recover before the last demanding block, this weekend. However, the rainy start was lively, with a struggle to form a breakaway that lasted nearly 20 kilometers. At the end of this soggy game, a quartet was able to leave (Mikkel Honoré, Micro Maestri, Andrea Pietrobon and Filippo Fiorelli).

Tim Merlier (Team Soudal Quick-Step) winner of the 18th stage of the Giro 2024, in Padua

Credit: Getty Images

Affini’s bet

Problem: the big thighs groups really didn’t want to miss one of the rare stages that suited them in this final week. So the Lidl-Trek of Milan and the Soudal Quick-Step of Merlier strived to leave the fugitives with a minimal nest egg, never measured beyond two minutes.

Except that in wanting to stifle the escapes, the peloton exposed itself to counterattacks. If that of Stefan De Bod (EF Education-EasyPost) did nothing, the attempt of Edoardo Affini (Visma | Lease a Bike) in the streets of Treviso hit the mark (59 kilometers from the goal). Returning to the leading quartet, Affini forced the peloton to be extra careful, knowing that the final was going to be technical, with a risk of storms…


Merlier delighted to have disappointed his “haters”

Lidl-Trek is disorganized, Merlier takes advantage of it

Ultimately, there was no storm, and the various technical passages (including a change of direction at a right angle 10 kilometers from the finish) did not cause any damage. The quintet was never really able to breathe, and was logically swallowed up 10 kilometers from the line. The technical finale still played its role, disorganizing the train which had been infallible so far at Lidl-Trek, which left its sprinter vegetating in the ball while the sprint started at the head of the procession.

Milan’s brutal effort did nothing, Merlier was too far ahead to achieve a second success in this edition, the third in the Giro. For Milan, we will have to wait for Rome for a fourth bouquet. Friday, the 19th stage should feature an adventurer-climber.

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