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GIRO’17 St.2: Greipel Wins Day & Race Lead

Giro Stage Report: On a day which was billed as one of the toughest of the race, a headwind made for a crushingly boring tappa for TV viewers – until the last few hundred metres and a brilliant sprint win for German Champion Andre Greipel (Lotto). Greipel beat a surprising Roberto Ferrari (UAE) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek) to take the Giro d’Italia stage 2 and the maglia rosa in Tortoli after 221 dour kilometres from Olbia.

‘A chance for sprinters who can get over a difficult climb,’ Cycling Weekly magazine’s assessment of the tappa – and it’s pretty accurate one. But just maybe it could end in a break these 221 kilometres from Olbia to Tortoli, the race handbook puts it this way;

‘First comes a rolling section across the district of Nuoro, with three long climbs: Bitti and Orune (non-categorised climb), Nuoro (a steeper, categorised climb) and Passo di Genna Silana (cat. climb).  Past Genna Silana comes a long, fast-running descent (over 20km, quite bumpy at points) on wide, well-surfaced roads. The final 10 km are flat.’

Let’s Roll
It took less than 20 minutes for the break of the day to go clear; five men – for the second day running, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), plus Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier Triestina), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom – Rusvelo) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF). Speeds weren’t big as the five slogged it out into the wind with the Bora driven peloton keeping them on a rein and with 150K still to ride the gap was inside four minutes; down from seven minutes.

Along twisty, rolling roads under bright sunshine past parched grass, olive trees, sleepy villages but with the obligatory pink on display – things should warm up on the first climb though, let’s hope so, they’re tapping along at 20 mph today.

Bora’s King of the Mountains leader, Benedetti certainly isn’t defending his maglia; he’s been on the front for an age, keeping that break in check.  Astana come to the front, with 125 K to go – why? Whatever the reason, the average speed has risen to 36 kph – hardly searing but better than 32 kph.

Lukas Pöstlberger signed on for what would be a short-lived run in the pink jersey.

It’s calmed down again, the gap is four minutes and climbing as the break taps up the GPM with the peloton at far from full gas. Andreetta takes the points out of the break on the GPM and no one is going to get dropped from the peloton as they amble up. That’s 100K to go and the escapees have 3:20 thanks to Bora’s policing duties.

It’s very leisurely in the peloton – too much so, this is when crashes happen. Now we have 80K to go and the gap slides under three minutes as Benedetti continues to burn the candle for the pink jersey. That’s 70K and the gap is 90 seconds back to a kerb to kerb peloton; Teklehaimanot is certainly racking up the breakaway points as he wins another intermediate sprint.

The road climbs, we hear Irish sprinter Sam Bennett is having trouble – after a night of dickie tummy. There’s 60K to go and still the break presses on but the gap is down to the minute mark. The break begin to attack each other, it’s too far out to be doing this but they’re on borrowed time and now – and as I say that and Polsat pop from the break, the gap goes back to 1:20, ‘savage’ this is not – 33 kph average thus far . . .

The peloton is still kerb to kerb with 53 K to go and now it really does look like the end as the gap drops to 40 seconds. The road still climbs and there’s 50K to go with three K to the summit and the montagne points; Teklehaimanot could take the climbers’ jersey if he stays clear with the other two, the Bardiani has popped too.

They pass 1000 metres altitude, Teklehaimanot times it perfectly, jumping just as the peloton latch on – he’s the mountain king tomorrow and worked damn hard for it.

Bahrain with Nibali at the head go to the front on the descent with 45K to go. Nathan Haas (Dimension Data & Australia) attacks, part of a choreography for Caleb Ewan, no doubt – a QuickStep joins him, it’s Martinelli (Italy).  It’s either downhill or flat to the finish so this looks unlikely – it’s over before it started.

We have 35K to go in what must be one of the slowest Grand Tour stages I have ever witnessed – grim viewing on what was meant to be a savage tappa.

We’re inside 30K now and it’s compatto with all the GC men up front – whilst Italian Champion Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) struggles at the rear.  They’re doing 70 kph + off the summit now and some splits are opening with The Shark’s men doing the damage.

We’re inside 20K now, narrow streets, with Nibali and Co. still piling it on. Nizzolo is haemorrhaging time, off the back on his own – no tricolore win today but the maglia rosa is well to the fore.

Inside 15K and this sustained speed off the descent will help drag the day’s average back into respectability.

That’s 10 K and from here on in it’s flat. The sprint teams will begin to organize themselves now as still Bahrain drill it.  Orica come up for Ewan with five miles to go but it’s messy, gutter to gutter so it’s not full gas just yet.

Zakarin is off the back – not a good time for a mechanical but Katusha are riding like mad men to get him back. Svein Tuft has had four star petrol for his breakfast again – on the front again, riding hard, hard. Lotto show now for German Champion Greipel as we go through three K to go – remarkably, Katusha have got their man back.

Lotto v. Orica now – Postlberger is there but it’s just too quick for him.  It’s going to be between Greipel, Ewan and Gaviria. Orica have a last man for Ewan but Greipel has that wheel and goes first; Ewan bumps Gaviria, once, twice – pulls his foot!

Disaster !

Ferrari now for UAE, Gaviria for QuickStep but le Gorille has way too many watts and they’ll need a XL maglia rosa tonight – he’ll take it on bonus seconds.

Greipel, then the surprising Ferrari – the finish looked to sane for him – Stuyven for Trek in third and Gaviria in fourth, that bumping cost him too.

A short hop for the maglia rosa though – from Austria to Germany. . .  That sprint made up for a paint drier of a day – almost.

Giro d’Italia 2017 Stage 2 Result:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 6:05:18
2. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
5. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNl-Jumbo
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
9. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott
10. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
11. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
12. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
13. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
14. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
15. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
16. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
17. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
18. Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott
19. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott
20. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
21. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Drapac
22. Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
23. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky
24. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
25. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo.

Giro d’Italia 2017 Overall After Stage 2:
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal in 11:18:39
2. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:04
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott at 0:08
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:10
6. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:12
7. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data at 0:14
8. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
9. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
10. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNl-Jumbo
11. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
12. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
13. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
14. Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
15. Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
16. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
17. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott
18. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
19. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky
20. Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R-La Mondiale
21. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
22. Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana
23. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb
24. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
25. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac.

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