TOUR de France winner Geraint Thomas is hot on the wheels of Giro d'Italia favourite Tadej Pogacar after a dramatic first three stages.

The Welsh cyclist - who was just pipped to last year's Maglia Rosa by Primoz Roglic – was second overall on Monday 46 seconds behind two-time Tour winner Pogacar, who has been willing to attack at every opportunity since Saturday's hilly 140km stage in Turin.

Monday's 166km third stage from Novara-Fossano ignited with 4km to go as Pogacar burst away from the bunching sprinters at the front of the peloton, with Thomas going with him.

They almost made it to the line, being swallowed up just 300m out, with Tim Merlier taking the stage win in a blanket finish.

Thomas, who owns the St Tewdric’s wedding venue near Chepstow, said of the late attack: "It wasn't the plan, we just wanted to stay well out of trouble.

"The boys were incredible really, set me up great. We were hoping Pippo [Ganna] and Jonny [Narváes] would be with me but they lost the wheel a bit somewhere along the way.

"I saw Mikkel Honoré and Pog go and then I was like 'might as well just go' but jeepers man that was solid, he was kicking my head in.

"I just told him I was quite tired in a few less words. I was just trying to hold his wheel and tried to give him a turn... But it was solid, we were going."

Thomas was 10th after the opening stage after Pogacar attacked on the final climb to finish third, and third in stage 2 after the Slovenian broke away to secure the stage win atop Oropa.