A late surging Tim Merlier picked his wheels and picked his moment to win the first road stage of Tirreno-Adriatico 2022, and open his account for the year. Jumbo Visma’s up-and-coming neo-pro, Olav Kooij, finished an impressive runner-up to Merlier, while Kaden Groves (Jayco BikeExchange) rounded out the top three. Stage favourite Caleb Ewan found himself out of position in the finale and unable to fully contest the sprint.
All after a hard, and not exactly level, 219km.
The race’s longest stage travelled from Camaiore in Lucca, Tuscany, just inland from the scene of yesterday’s time trial, before passing through Pisa, and eventually arriving in Sovicille, not far from Siena.
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Tirren-Adriatico Stage 2 Highlights - Tim Merlier sprints to victory

The long flat run-in made it likely to end in a likely bunch sprint, but the preceding profile meant it was not nailed-on to do so.
The day’s five breakers, as they always do, had hopes they could nudge the odds in their favour. That the group was constructed entirely from the ProContinental invitees tipped them in the other direction. The quintet consisted of Johnatan Cañaveral, Davide Gabburo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Umberto Marengo (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Davide Bais and Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa).
They established an almost immediate advantage of 1’30” which was allowed to grow exponentially, eventually topping out at 8 minutes barely 20km into the stage.
Eventually the peloton decided to put some power into their pedals, reducing the break’s advantage in the next hour by almost two minutes. Ineos Grenadier and Lotto Soudal were the teams doing the lion’s share of the work, in defence of Filippo Ganna’s Maglia Azzurra and seeking to ensure a sprint finish for Caleb Ewan, respectively.
The first KOM points were an all-Italian affair. Davide Bais claimed the maximum five, with Canaveral the only rider to go over the top of La Pineta empty handed. That was enough for Cañaveral for one day, who was caught by the bunch with 50km remaining. A mere five minutes later the break was down to just two, leaving just Bais and Francesco Gavazzi up the road. The team-mates’ two-minute lead was rapidly reduced to a twenty second one, which was what the sprinters’ teams seemed happy with, reluctant to pull the whole thing back too soon and risk other riders being tempted to counter-attack.
On the Ciciano climb, with 32.5km to go, Mark Cavendish (QuickStep AlphaVinyl) was the first big name sprinter to lose touch with the peloton. The length of the run-in meant he had plenty of time to pace back on and, ten kilometres later, aided by a team-mate, had done just that.
Bais and Gavazzi hung around long enough to take the top two sets of points at the Chiusdino intermediate sprint, while Tadej Pogacar popped up for the single bonus second remaining.
Over the final, non-categorised climb, the Colonna di Montarrenti, Pogacar’s UAE Emirates team-mate Marc Soler went on an approved (presumably, but you never know with Soler) hunting expedition. Soler quickly reached and overhauled the remaining breakaway rider, though a 35 second lead was as good as it got for Soler.

'It was really hectic!' - Merlier on chaotic bunch sprint finish

Behind the sprinters teams were beginning to organise themselves and up the pace. The hounds smelled blood, then caught sight of the hare on the long straight road 6km from the finish.
With 3.5km Tim Wellens hit the front and increased the pace for Lotto Soudal, as the road narrowed ahead of a big left hand turn.
Out of the corner Alpecin Fenix, working for Tim Merlier, led the left side of the peloton, while TotalEnergies claimed the right for Peter Sagan. Israel Premier Tech, with Giacomo Nizzolo their sprinter, took them under the flamme rouge before Quick Step began (briefly) to boss it at the front. It was Sagan who charged to the front and kicked first at the 200m marker, only for his power to fade a fraction sooner than he’d have liked. A nimble Merlier, in contrast, left it late to make his move. Spotting a gap by the barriers, the Belgian made a beeline for it and looked unbeatable. As little road as there was left, his ferocious leg speed and unmatched acceleration even gave him a gap, affording him time to look back at his rivals and swing his arms in celebration before the line.
The only change to the overall top ten was Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) falling out of it, and Lawson Craddock climbing up. Davide Bais takes the first King of the Mountains jersey of the race, while the young rider's jersey remains on the back of Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep AlphaVinyl). Race leader Filippo Ganna also heads the points standings.

STAGE 2 - TOP 10

1 - Tim Merlier (Alpecin Fenix) 5:25:23


2 - Olav Kooij (JumboVisma) ,,


3 - Kaden Groves (BikeExchange-Jayco) ,,


4 - Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) ,,


5 - Simone Consonni (Cofidis) ,,


6 - Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) ,,


7 - Davide Ballerini (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) ,,


8 - Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) ,,


9 - Jacopo Guarnieri (Groupama FDJ) ,,


10 - Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) ,,



General Classification Standings

1 - Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) 5:40:40
2 - Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) +0:00:11
3 - Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 0:00:17
4 - Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) 0:00:24
5 - Alex Dowsett (Israel-Premier Tech) 0:00:25
6 - Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 0:00:28
7 - Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ) 0:00:32
8 - Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) 0:00:33
9 - Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco) 0:00:39
10 - Lawson Craddock ((BikeExchange-Jayco) ,,
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