After two days of climbing, the sprinters had their chance on stage three of the Giro d’Italia and although it almost looked like they would be upset by a late attack from race leader Tadej Pogacar, it was Tim Merlier (SOQ) who claimed the bunch sprint while Grand Tour debutant Ethan Vernon sprinted to seventh place.

Vernon came from far back but found an opening with 250 meters to go, at which point the sprinters reeled in Pogacar and Geraint Thomas, with the Brit sitting in the fourth wheel before opening up his sprint.

It was chaotic as we expected,” said Vernon. “I was pretty far back actually, coming into the last kilometer, and with the luck of sprinting, an opportunity opened up and I managed to get through a gap that took me in the first two with 200 meters to go. I opened up my sprint and I didn’t have the legs to hold it to the line. But, it was a good start.

After a quiet start to the stage with no breakaway in the first half of the race, chaos ensued when a large group of 24 riders, including many of the favorites of the day, went clear. IPT missed out but fortunately, the peloton managed to catch the group with around 40 kilometers remaining to set the stage for the sprint finish.

We got caught out a bit there,” added Vernon. “Fair play to the sprinters’ teams. It made sense what they did to put guys like us, who missed it, on the back foot.”