Giro Stage 2 Preview

A likely sprint finish awaits, one of the rare chances for the sprinters in a race with few opportunities and consequently few sprinters. There’s a good chance of the first Italian stage win too.

Tom Dumoulin, Jerusalem 2018

Stage 1 review: several riders broke Rohan Dennis’s time at the intermediate checkpoint but they faded by the finish leaving the Australian in the hotseat for hours. Then Tom Dumoulin arrived to win the stage.

Three riders crashed on practice rides in the morning including Chris Froome who went on to have a relatively poor ride later, losing time to the likes of Domenico Pozzovivo and Thibaut Pinot but still finishing 21st. It’s all seconds for now but Dumoulin couldn’t have hoped for more and he is already in a comfortable position with enough time on the sprinters to keep his maglia rosa for several days although this puts a burden on his team already and they’ve no way to unload the jersey to a sprinter. The best GC rival to Dumoulin was Simon Yates at 20 seconds on a course that was rewarded more lively riders than it looked; Katusha-Alpecin’s José Gonçalves was another surprise and may feature more in the coming days. The biggest GC losers were Michael Woods and Louis Meintjes, both losing over a minute. Another disappointment was the crowd which looked sparse around much of the course, certainly in comparison to Apeldoorn when the Giro last opened with a time trial.

Tom Dumoulin 2018

The Route: 167km from Haifa and after a loop north it’s south along the coast along Highway 2, a big and featureless express road that will have many Israelis watching the Giro for the first time wondering what the fuss is about. If you’re watching and yawning then don’t say you were not warned but let us note this is almost what the Giro is here for, to show off parts of the country that don’t have giant fences with snipers on one side and arms caches on the other and the habitual images of the region that make the TV news bulletins.

There are 3-2-1 points for the marked mountains point of the day so expect a scrap because the first to the top gets on the podium this evening and wears a jersey tomorrow, the Israel Academy will be on a mission to get in a breakaway today. For the rest of us it’s all on unknown roads in an unknown land. Now these are tarmac highways like anywhere else but it’s the terrain and geography that are novel, how does the wind blow in these parts, are there potholes, street furniture to cause problems? Questions that haven’t been solved by a recon ride, it’s too far to visit.

The Finish: Tel Aviv doesn’t quite have a grid system of perpendicular roads but the course is regular with one 90 degree bend to the right before a 600m finishing straight on the city’s sea front esplanade.

The Contenders: this should be a nailed-on sprint finish because of the flat course, in the coming days and weeks some stages should be for the sprinters but a late climb or a hilly course should give the day’s breakaway riders more of a chance and make a few teams less likely to toil all day.

Elia Viviani is the obvious pick, he’s had six wins already this year and comes with a very strong lead out with Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini, two of the best in the business. This will count on the long boulevards, these are roads where there’s room for a sprint train. So far so good but Viviani’s return to racing wasn’t impressive, he was struggling in the Tour de Romandie before being ejected for missing the time cut. Now he may not have had his climbing legs but it’s not reassuring about his overall condition.

This is a big chance for Danny van Poppel (Lotto-Jumbo) who gets a clear run at the line whereas plenty of upcoming stages have a climb or two near the finish which will make him and his 80kg bulk sweat.

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) is capable of beating the biggest of names like his stage win in Paris-Nice last year but that win is still an exception on a palmarès that’s still in need of some bigger wins for a 27 year old sprinter.

Sacha Modolo (Education First- Drapac) has the pedigree, has he got the form? He’s won stages of the Giro in the past (pictured) albeit because half the other sprinters in the race had flown home but with the Giro’s lighter field he’s in with a good chance.

The joke goes that Andrea Guardini only wins within sight of a mosque. Certainly he’s racked up a lot of wins in races like the Tour of Langkawi and the Tour of Turkey but this is more about being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Now he’s back at Bardiani-CSF and able to ride the Giro after years at Astana where their GC ambitions ruled him out of a start in his home race. He’s fast – he beat Mark Cavendish for a Giro stage in 2012 – but he’s not consistent.

Jakub Marecko is the new Guardini, another short squat sprinter with a turbo finish. “Kuba” has had a mixed season, wins galore in the Tour of Morocco but DNF in the recent Tour de Bretagne and now has to gofrom pro-am 2.2 races to the Giro, a step so high a ladder is recommended. Will he win today? Maybe not but he can try here and again and if it works then Wilier-Triestina have struck gold for the Giro especially after losing their media-friendly talisman Pozzato.

Bahrain-Merida’s Niccolò Bonifazio comes off wins in the Tour of Croatia but is not a big time winner yet and better suited to harder, hillier finishes. Finally Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Fixall), Kristian Sbaragli (Israel Academy) and Baptiste Plankaert (Katusha-Alpecin) will probably try but have a low win rate.

Elia Viviani
Danny van Poppel, Sam Bennett
Modolo, Guardini, Mareczko, Bonifazio

Weather: warm and sunny, a cooler 25°C. The wind will come in from the coast at 20-25km/h and could gust more.

TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 6.00 in Israel, 5.00pm Euro time.

32 thoughts on “Giro Stage 2 Preview”

  1. I dont know the area, but I have read there should be slot of roundabouts within the couple of kilometers, which could make it a more technical finish, where the lead out trains become more important…

    Also I wonder if Campenaerts isnt going to have a go to the if he can cheat the sprinters and get the pink Jersey?

    • Campenaerts will maybe even be allowed to go to breakaway and take bonus seconds on sprint. Dumoulin will be happy to let him jersey for sure.

  2. Froome and Sky must feel like organising a trip to the Wailing Wall after yet more Giro ill-luck.
    Almost half a minute down already to the Pink Tulip?
    Well, whatever you think of the Israel crusade, it’s already set the race up in a huge manner.

    The next two stages may or may not be yawn-inducing but it’s job done, I feel?

  3. Tom in pink and Froome far off the pace,some of the climbers staying remarkably close. Couldn’t have wished for a better start of (sporting aspects of) the race.
    For today it is for Viviani to loose. Let’s see who has ambitions for the blue jersey,although the real contenders might not bother in the heat and flat.

  4. The race is set up nicely in that the riders who were seen as the main challengers to Tommy D – Froome, Pinot, Aru and Lopez (with respect to Dennis, Pozzovivo and Betancur) are all already 30 plus seconds down with a long flat time trial to come. Everyone, especially Aru and Lopez, has work to do. Presumably Lopez has spent all that time in the wind tunnel drying his hair?!

      • I blame Kirby for this sort of thing – is he really (as someone suggested on another post) doing the commentary for Eurosport UK? What happened to Hatch? Oh well, 2.5 weeks of silence will be better than 2.5 weeks of a man ignoring the race in favour his own inner jabbering and his mission to shoehorn in as many of his cliches into one stage as he can. One day, Kelly’s going to lose it and beat the imbecile to a pulp live on air whilst Kirby wonders aloud ‘who else is going to join the party?’

  5. Some people have short memories. In the Tour 2015 there was an opening ITT of 13.8kms. Froome, who didn’t crash in practice that day, finished in 39th place at 50 seconds down to Rohan Dennis. He finished 42 seconds behind Dumoulin that day (more than yesterday) and he also finished behind Pinot and Simon Yates that day too.

    None of this means yesterday was an ideal start for Froome but, on balance, I doubt he was going to do a lot better. I note that he has been saying (and, yes, this could just be spin) that he hasn’t come here to win the race in the time trials. I agree that he can’t do that. But, given that I can see him losing another minute at the proper ITT deeper into the race, it seems we should expect some crafty tactics, as in the 2016 Tour, or some mountain fireworks.

    Say what you like about Froome, but having him behind is sure to animate the race. And I’m convinced that Dumoulin, my pick for the win, is going to have a bad day.

    • In 2015 Sky & QS contrived an ambush in the squall the next day, which left behind most of the other real contenders. From memory I dont think many of CF’s actual rivals were ahead on the opening TT. The difference here is that his likely biggest rival is already nearly 40 seconds ahead and likely to get more on the other TT. I agree that Chris Froome will attack in the mountains but not sure this course is really set up for long range mountain attacks, lots of steady climbs, which seem to suit TD and he is no slouch on the shorter steeper stuff either, Oropa last year? I had doubts about his form coming into this but he seems to be back in peak condition, agree that he must be prime pick for the overall.

      • He was behind Nibali but ahead of Contador and Quintana. Besides the squall ambush, he also popped off and beat the field by a minute at Pierre St Martin on stage 10 which effectively killed the race. If only that Froome still existed.

        • You seem remarkably convinced that Froome is not the rider he was. This is strange in that a) you are the chairman of his fan club and b) the last time he raced anything important he won the Vuelta and medalled at the worlds TT.

          • It’s called managing one’s expectations. There remains the possibility that having been caught Froome has decided to go clean – that could be the cliff-drop that RonDe is so fond of mentioning. Devotees need a ready-made excuse for that possibility.
            Personally, I doubt Froome has changed whatever his preparation has been over these last few years and expect him to win, taking time off TD in the mountains and mowing the others down in the chrono (TM Larry T).

          • Tbf, the cliff is a real thing across sports – you see it not infrequently with NFL quarterbacks and boxers/MMA fighters who stick around too long, to name a couple examples – and Froome is just about to reach the age where GC guys start to lose it. Otoh it’s hardly guaranteed, Nibali is a year older + obviously as sharp as ever, and Gabriele had that post a couple days ago showing the variation in age and sharp decline vs. gentle taper in major GC riders. It would indeed be a convenient excuse whether true or not.

            If were Nicolas Portal or whoever I would be less than enthused but not yet worried. Besides Doom (+ Rohan Dennis I guess, if you take that seriously) Froome only lost marginal time to a couple guys he should smash in the longer TT.

            On the other other hand, Pinot looked pretty good, if he can keep on w/the climbing + strength he showed at TotA.

          • @Richard S

            I’m not convinced at all. Perhaps he batters the field out of sight. But having seen Contador’s demise so recently, can anyone say Froome’s is not coming along soon as well? People were saying he was done and too old last July. But I wasn’t. Yet, open-minded prudence demands we expect a drop off at some point.

            My view of him in this Giro is that he’ll win or not even podium.

          • Barbarossa, I think there is a cliff down for many riders.
            But what always gets my attention are the ones who jump up over a cliff to become GT winners. Like Pantani, Indurain, Riis, Ulrich, Armstrong and Froome. All come with fictional stories about the reason for their change.

          • Ullrich? I know he doped but he was 2nd in his first tour, won his second and thereafter was always on the podium until he was busted. He was always a boss in time trials and was on the podium at the worlds TT in 94 as a neo-pro.

          • Yeah, Richard S, totally so (re: Ullrich), I answered to the psychoguy above – just for fun’s sake, obviously enough.

          • @psychlinggg
            Ehi ehi, thanks pal, I love that game… how do they call it? Find the odd ones out?
            Cool! Let’s see, let me help:

            1) Pantani – before winning his first GT, he had podiumed 3 times, plus a 13th place, out of 4 GTs he finished. At 25, he had already podiumed at both the Giro and the TdF (various stage wins). His “excuse” for his previous single DNF: a neopro racing his first GT ever.
            2) Indurain – before winning his first GT, he had 2 top-tens and 1 podium out of 6 finished GTs. At 25, he hadn’t done much but winning Pa-Ni, Catalunya, Critérium International and 1 TdF stage. His “excuse” for his previous 97-47-17-7-10: “gradual growth” (perhaps he loved number “7”, too) and helping his team leader winning a TdF and podiuming twice in three years.
            3) Riis – before winning his first GT he had 1 podium & 1 top-ten out of 10 (!) GTs he finished. He didn’t even make the top 50 (fifty) 60% of the times. At 25 he had won only 1 Giro stage. His “excuse”: the man hasn’t ever been the kind of guy who makes excuses of sort. Heck, he wasn’t doping enough, as simple as that!
            4) Ullrich – before winning his first GT, he had podiumed (2nd) in his first and only at the time. At 25 he had already won the TdF, multiple stages, the Hew Cyclassics, one TdS stage and other smaller things. He needed no excuse for any change because, well, he didn’t change at all (what were you thinking about, man? Irony or sort of, I guess? Oh yeah, you meant some Ulrich with a single “l”).
            5) Armstrong – before winning his first GT, he had a 4th and a 36th place in the only 2 GTs he could finish out of 5 he had entered. At 25 he had already won the Worlds, the Flèche, San Sebastián, Laigueglia, a couple of TdF stages… His excuse: too many muscles in the upper body, thanks cancer.
            6) Froome – before winning his first GT, he had two podia and a top-ten out of 5 GTs he finished. At 25 he hadn’t won anything at all. His excuse(s): bilharziosi, Africa, overweight, asma, pick one…

            My take? Ouch, this is a hard one. The odd one, but not in the sense you’d expect, is surely Riis, he had shown no talent at all before his glorious rise.
            But, wow, Armstrong not doing anything in GTs before becoming a TdF winner is impressive. And Froome not showing *any* hint ever of top cycling capabilities before he was 26 is shocking, too (but at least he’s got sort of a progression in GTs). And they both have great excuses.
            Indurain’s excuse is interesting, also, but, frankly, he didn’t make enough of a shift. Come on, winning multiple short stage races before you’re 25, and then you ask us to be surprised if you go on top-tenning then winning in GTs? Suspicious, but a greater effort is needed.
            Pantani and Ullrich, well, they soon showed huge talent, won stages, podiumed, then went on to win. Just as the greates ever always tended to do. They didn’t make any sort of change, so it’s only about some fan’s ignorance. What’s not to like (about ignorant fans, I mean)?

            If we assume that they were all doping (asterisk* for Froome), it’s one of the best demostration I’ve ever seen about how nonsensical it is to try to infer doping from performances. You couldn’t easily find a broader variety of career evolutions!

        • I think that’s the really interesting question that’s now been thrown up… how does Froome / Sky react to being on the back foot? Will tempo climbs, which also suit TD, be enough to pull back enough time before the TT? Hopefully not and we’ll see Sky scrapping rather than smothering.

          Note also that there was no Sky riders in the top 20 of the TT… unprecedented in recent years. Maybe be the drama’s taking its toll.

    • A counter-point would be that in 2017, Froome did quite well in the initial TT. While he didn’t win, he put down a marker for his rivals, and opened gaps on the very first day.

      I suspect how you view Froome’s performance yesterday depends entirely on how you view Froome.

    • Dumoulin was not yet a GT contender at the time, and crashed out soon after. Still, there are plenty of examples of Froome outclimbing all the ‘pure’ climbers and taking significant time on them. You could argue that Dumoulin did something similar at Oropa last year but it is not yet on the same level as say, Ventoux (tdf 2013?, what was it again). So by all means it is too early to count Froome out. But you would expect a top form Froome, even if he has trained more for climbing, to finish in front of Yates and Pozzovivo in a hilly TT.

  6. Unless the winds blow (and I guess not many will have any idea about how likely crosswinds are on this course) this seems set up for another QS victory though Ellia Vivanni is not as reliable as many of the other top sprinters, certainly not as when QS turned up with Cav or Marcel Kittel.

    Tom Dumoulin was very impressive yesterday, winning really didnt mater but he was so focused and determined, just like last year, and he wanted to stamp his authority on the race from the very start. He now has the experience of wearing pink and the hoopla that goes with it that I doubt it will affect him or the team (not that it seemed to bother him last year). Not sure you can plan to “give away” the jersey, maybe a breakaway over the next couple of days (Tony Martin perhaps?) other than that Sunweb could be leading this race for many days to come.

  7. I’ll be taping it & fast forwarding to the last 10k.
    I thought the coverage of stage 1 was pretty dreadful on Eurosport & here in Australia the pre & post shows were Fletcher speaking Spanish or long stretches of overhead shots of the city with nothing but the sound of helicopter rotors.
    I’ll be saving my sleep till we get to Italy.

  8. Sounds like the armchair fan will need to hope for dust storms that leave pockets of cyclists banging on doors to ask for directions. (Or failing that, just a late puncture will do.)

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