Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic and Peter Sagan were among the big names to crash during an incident-packed Stage 3 of the Tour de France, one that saw Tim Merlier take victory.

Aided by the work of his Alpecin–Fenix colleagues, Merlier was able to come out on top in a sprint finish, crossing the line ahead of team-mate Jasper Philipsen at the end of the 182.9-kilometre journey from Lorient to Pontivy.

"I'm living the dream, I think," the Belgian said in his post-stage interview.

"After the Giro d'Italia I wasn't really very happy, but now I've won a stage on the Tour - the biggest race in the world - I can't believe it."

Having won on Sunday, Mathieu van der Poel was seventh this time around as he retained the yellow jersey, making it a double celebration for the Alpecin-Fenix squad.

However, there was little to cheer about for 2018 winner Thomas, who suffered a shoulder injury following a heavy fall in the early going that saw Robert Gesink forced to retire from the race.

That was far from the end of the drama, though. Roglic came a cropper with just under 10km remaining, leading to him losing over a minute in the standings.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar's progress was then delayed by a mass pile-up not long after the breakaway group was caught, while Sagan's spillage came when he tangled with Caleb Ewan in the closing metres.

Pogacar sits in sixth place in the general classification, now 38 seconds behind Van der Poel. Julian Alaphilippe remains in second, while Richard Carapaz is up to third, sitting on the same time as Wout van Aert.


STAGE RESULT  

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 4:01:28
2. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Team Arkea-Samsic)
4. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification 

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 12:58:53
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +00:08
3. Richard Carparaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:31

Points Classification 

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 80
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 62
3. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50 

King of the Mountains 

1. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) 5
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) 4
3. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 3