GIRO’18 Stage 2: Tel A Viviani!

Race Report: Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) overcame a confusing run in to secure the first road stage win of the 2018 Giro d’Italia as Rohan Dennis (BMC) found enough seconds at the intermediate sprint to move into the pink jersey. Giro stage 2, Haifa to Tel Aviv, 167km.

It was by no way a classic but that won’t matter to Elia Viviani who doubled up on his 2015 Giro d’Italia stage win, also on the second stage. The Italian had missed his lead out but there’s not a particularly high class sprint field here and Viviani was able to use his skill and experience to get back to the front and eventually benefit from Jakub Mareczko who launched a stinging sprint inside the final 200m. Elsewhere, Rohan Dennis took enough bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint to move into the pink jersey for the third stage. There isn’t much else to say really about a stage in the heat which resembled a gentle Sunday ride for much of its 167km length.

Route
Luckily I’m off tomorrow when the Giro organizers decided, in their wisdom, to send the peloton through the desert for 229km – in a straight line. There’s nothing exciting terrain wise today but at least we get some pleasant views as the race hugs the Mediterranean coast for the majority of the route. We’re going for 167km from Haifa to Tel Aviv and the route is truly level – there are only two rises, one categorized with a high point of 167m. The final 70km are completely flat and there’s very little hope for any non-sprinters. I feel I should write more here but….There’s not much to say – at least it’s not tomorrow’s stage?

Vector Victor
Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Fix All) is possibly best known for being the subject of a complete sense of humor collapse for cycling last year when he asked for a date by writing on his chest during a Giro time trial. He was fined 100 euros and given a dressing down by his team boss, but apparently got the date. He’s also making a name for himself in cycling as well and is a seriously good time trial rider, good enough to be European champion and third place in yesterday’s stage. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) freely admitted that he had no interest in keeping the pink jersey and so Campenaerts gave it a go in the early break. It was all brought back but at the second time of asking Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Lars Bak (Lotto Fix All) and Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) forged clear. With the gap less than one minute, Campenaerts tried again to go clear but the peloton put their foot down and it was going to be a break of three in the day’s peloton.

With 115km left to ride, the gap was 3.37 and the cross headwind was dulling an already dull day. I went off to make some lunch.

Post Lunch
In the 45 or so minutes it had taken to get lunch, nothing had happened. But as I returned, BMC had taken up the chasing duties and the gap to the break was falling very quickly, well under one minute now with the King Of the Mountain’s climb rising ahead of them. The three riders made it to the climb first of all but it wasn’t enough for Bak who fell away leaving two riders. They were to become three again as Enrico Barbin (Bardiani CSF) joined them out of the peloton. Ballerini was looking the strongest and he pushed to the front at the halfway point but he had mistimed his efforts and he was brought back and then dropped. Boivin was the next to go and with Barbin falling off the back of the leading group the Canadian from the local team was closing in on the mountain’s jersey. The Canadian had a large lead but Barbin’s resurgence was inspired and with only around 100m left on the climb, the Italian passed Boivin and rode into the blue jersey. It was the last act for the break and it was grupo compacto with more than 70km still left to go.

The next point of interest was the intermediate sprint and with 3,2 and 1 seconds on offer at the line there was a chance for either Campenaerts or Rohan Dennis (BMC) snatching the pink jersey. BMC had done all the hard work and it was the unlikely sight of Dennis beating the other sprinters to snatch back the pink jersey that Dumoulin had taken with his last second effort on the opening stage. Campenaerts had left empty handed and he continued his effort as the peloton eased up. The Belgian was allowed to push on for a few kilometers before his effort was ended. That opened the door for Boivin to go again and he got away easily from a peloton who were looking more and more like they were out for a coffee stop ride. The Canadian gained one minute almost immediately and Bora-Hansgrohe were sent to the front to keep the time in check but nobody was burning any matches today.

Boivin Again
Boivin was riding well bearing in mind how much he’d done previously but he was never going to be allowed to gain any significant time. With 20km left his gap was under 30 seconds and the peloton had finally been roused from their slumber and the chase was on. It was game over for the Canadian with 16km left and it was all set for the inevitable sprint finish.

No team had yet to take over the front of the peloton but as we hit the final 7km the Bahrain Merida team were monopolizing the front. It was an incredibly technical finish with the road shrinking and growing almost constantly. The speed was keeping the peloton strung out and relatively safe but at the front no single team had taken ownership of the pace making efforts.

With 4km left to go Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) had a go but he was hauled back by Education First – Drapac and a follow up effort from Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin) was also put out. Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Fix All) was the next to have a go but he was brought to heel by the peloton now led by Quick-Step Floors.

There was no sprint train as the peloton went into the final kilometer. It was Sacha Modolo (Education First-Drapac) who was put on the front with his team but their efforts were swamped by Sam Bennett and his Bora-Hansgrohe team. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) was nowhere to be seen and it was looking like being between Modolo and Bennett. But from nowhere Jakub Mareczko (Willier Triestina-Selle Italia) launched his effort on the right side of the road but the Italian had slightly mistimed his effort and Viviani was stuck to his countryman’s wheel. Viviani hit the front with only around 100m left to ride and just snuck past Mareczko. Sam Bennett was good enough for third place but the Irishman never looked like he was in the same league as the two ahead of him. There were no major splits behind so Rohan Dennis will move into the pink jersey.

Stage 2 winner, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “Everyone expected me to win so I was very nervous this morning. I’ve returned to the Giro after a two-year absence and a great desire to win. I’ve had to use my team-mates earlier than planned. I dedicate this victory to my girlfriend Elena. We sacrifice a lot to achieve this kind of result.”

Giro d’Italia leader, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “I missed the Maglia Rosa by very little yesterday but I made it today thanks to teamwork. My team-mates led me out for 20km to win this time bonus, and even before then they made sure no one escaped up the road. Viviani, to be honest, he sprinted but he didn’t go full. It was good to see him get the stage win after… not that he gave it to me but, put it this way, he was kind.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors in 3:51:20
2. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia
3. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6. Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
9. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC
11. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
12. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
13. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
14. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
15. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
16. Alex Dowsett (GB) Katusha-Alpecin
17. Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R-La Mondiale
18. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
19. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb
20. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy
21. Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJ
22. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb
23. José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
24. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
25. Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 2:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 4:03:21
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:01
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:03
4. José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:13
5. Alex Dowsett (GB) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:17
6. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:19
7. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:21
8. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors at 0:22
9. Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:28
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
11. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar at 0:29
12. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:30
13. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:31
14. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:32
15. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:33
16. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:34
17. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:35
18. Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJ
19. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors at 0:36
20. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:38
21. Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Movistar at 0:39
22. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:41
23. Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar
24. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
25. Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:43

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