Merlier Sprints to Victory in Stage 21 at Giro d’Italia

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05/26/2024| 0 comments
Tadej Pogacar with Giro d'Italia trophy in front of the Colosseum in Rome
2024 Giro d'Italia winner Tadej Pogacar with trophy in front of the Colosseum in Rome RCS Sport - LaPresse

Merlier Sprints to Victory in Stage 21 at Giro d’Italia

Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) has won stage 21 of Giro d’Italia 2024 – the final stage of this year’s Giro; Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has won Giro d’Italia 2024 ahead of Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers)

Sunday’s stage 21 of Giro d’Italia 2024 was the final stage of the first Grand Tour of the 2024 season. The stage was designed as a 125-kilometer parade stage from Rome to Rome, the Capital of Italy. The route was virtually flat, and a mass sprint finish was expected in the streets of Rome. The riders were enjoying fine weather as they rode their bikes at slow speeds along the beautiful avenues that were lined with stone pine trees. 

Riders, team management and support staff members were toasting in high-quality prosecco, and while spirits were generally high within the peloton in the first kilometers, there was significant disappointment amongst some riders finishing in the final top ten of the General Classification who had been unable to match UAE Team Emirates’ Giro d’Italia winner Tadej Pogacar in this year’s race.

Pogacar had been riding on a whole other level than any other rider in this year’s Giro peloton and it is rumored some top ten finishers have even found it a “waste of time” to participate in a race that was decided from the very beginning. Pogacar had won no less than six of the twenty-one stages in this year’s Giro.

Pogacar, himself, was smiling and proudly wearing a complete pink outfit, while his teammates were wearing pink-and-white team kits that design-wise reminded spectators of Team Telekom in the good old Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich days of the late nineties.

The on-the-bike celebrations eventually ended and the speed in the peloton increased. A four-man group broke away from the peloton, hoping to animate the stage and gain some valuable television time for their teams. The riders in the front group were Ewen Costiou (Arkea B&B Hotels), Alex Baudin (Decathlon-AG2R-La Mondiale), Mikkel Honore (EF Education-EasyPost), and Martin Marcellusi (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane). 

As the front riders passed by the famous Colosseum, they had a twenty second advantage while 56 kilometers of the stage remained.

With 25 kilometers left of the final stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia the breakaway quartet had a lead of twenty seconds. The Lidl-Trek team members were keeping the front men on a tight leash to protect the interests of their sprinter Jonathan Milan, who was leading and winning the Points Competition. 

The breakaway group was reeled in. The sprinter teams were not prepared to take any chances today.

The sprinter teams moved to the front of the peloton as the riders approached the finish line. Jonathan Milan either suffered a flat tire or an exploded tire. This was a dramatic and hectic finale for the Lidl-Trek team who had hoped their sprint ace would triumph in the streets of Rome.

Milan was successfully returned to the front of the peloton after a bike change. But he had spent much energy on fighting his way back to the front of the action. 

Alpecin-Deceuninck set a fast pace with two kilometers left. But Lidl-Trek took over and now spearheaded the team. UAE Team Emirates were also fighting for their sprinter as if the Pogacar triumph wasn’t enough.

Fernando Gaviria accelerated for Movistar. Team Visma-Lease a Bike had its fastest man up front in the final meters. But it was Tim Merlier who catapulted himself first across the finish line for his Soudal-QuickStep team. What a win for the Belgian in the Capital of Italy. Jonathan Milan took second, while Kaden Groves completed the stage podium for Alpecin-Deceuninck.

Pogacar paraded through the streets of Rome in today’s final stage in as dominant a fashion as Emperor Julius Caesar did in Roman times. Tadej Pogacar won Giro d’Italia 2024 in 79:14:03 following six stage victories. Daniel Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished second in the General Classification, 09:56 minutes behind the Slovenian winner. Last year’s second place finisher Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers) filled the remaining spot on the podium 10:24 minutes behind Pogacar.

Stay tuned to for additional race coverage from the 2024 professional cycling season.

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