Giro Stage 2 Preview

A route to put the tourism in a grand tour as the race passes the scenic parts of Sicily with a finish on the valley of temples in Agrigento.

Veni, vidi, vici: Filippo Ganna won the stage by a comfortable margin. Several crashed, among them Miguel Angel Lopez who changed hand position on the bars just as he rode over a pothole which bounced him off the saddle and he smashed into the barriers, he’s out of the race and probably won’t be seen in an Astana jersey again (there’s talk he and Harald Tejada could leave for Movistar or Ag2 La Mondiale). Geraint Thomas was the best among the GC contenders with Simon Yates over 30 seconds down on him and the other prime picks over a minute down already.

The Route: 149km and all about the finish. Nobody wants to let a big break go, starting with Ineos who have bigger ambitions than shepherding Ganna but one extra day in pink would be nice for the team and many teams have protected riders for the finish today, there’s a wide cast of characters.

The Finish: a four kilometre uphill drag, it averages 4% but the middle two kilometres are an awkward 6%, hard enough to eject most of the sprinters.

The Contenders: it’s a finish for puncheurs and scattisti rather than sprinters. Riders like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) won’t find the finish easy although they’re safe picks as if they can hang tight but if the bookmakers rate them highly for today be careful. Otherwise Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) is a specialist at finishes like this while Enrico Battaglin (Bahrain-McLaren) used to be too but has a low win rate this days.

Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-Quickstep) are good picks too. Simone Consonni (Cofidis) is an Italian version of Bryan Coquard although maybe with more chances of winning. Otherwise this finish is accessible to many, from sprinters who can hold on across to GC contenders. It sounds like a cop out for a blog trying to pick winners but sit back and enjoy the hectic finish which should have more surges than a French phone book.

Diego Ulissi, Michael Matthews
G Thomas, Almeida, Masnada
Vendrame, Sagan, Conti, Consonni, Battaglin, Yates

Weather: warm and sunny, 30°C and the Sirocco wind won’t blow as hard as yesterday.

TV: if you enjoy watching cycling on TV you’re spoilt today. The women’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège finishes around 12.30pm CEST and then the Giro picks up with coverage soon after 2.00pm CEST and the finish forecast for 4.30pm CEST and the men’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège finishes around 5.00pm CEST.

46 thoughts on “Giro Stage 2 Preview”

  1. Thanks – I was surprised to see “Superman” Lopez out for the Giro given he’d ridden the Tour and was on his way to a new team. Sorry to see him hurt, but glad there are no broken bones, if news reports are to be believed.

    Scattisti is a new word to me, presumably a better description for Ulissi. In which case what would the Italian for a pure sprinter like Viviani be?

  2. Seems like a fairly classic Giro type of finish. Would like to see Ulissi win. What’s expected of Masnada? Is he one of Quick Steps occasional fairly half hearted GC men or is he more of a hilly one day rider, or a Ciccone style stage and mountain jersey hunter? Or do we not know yet?

  3. This blog being the bilingual pun appreciation society that it is (exhibit: “surges”) I feel that special mention must be made of the nickname the Italians have given to Filippo Ganna… “Top Ganna”! Complete with the Berlin, You Take My Breath Away soundtrack while he’s on the start ramp and questionably politically incorrect when spoken by any non-Italian, it’s just too good to be true!

  4. Almeida could well be in pink this evening or on Etna and, if he holds on then, DQS seem to have a reasonable team to support both on the flat and in the mountains and surely they would do so. Interesting days ahead

  5. Absolutely stunned by the time gaps yesterday.

    It feels like Geraint just has to stay upright to win this race… which admittedly has not been his strong suit in the past so anything can happen.

    Unless this is his Grand Tour winning style? Crash in every race imaginable for ten years but then have completely smooth runs each time you win the biggest races in the world?

    Also hard to know exactly watt caused the big time gaps yesterday? The wind, raw power, extra weight/size, aero? Maybe a bit of all. I just have no idea how half of those riders will make up a minute on Thomas especially if on the other TT’s he’s taking more than a minute? Yates is the only other contender as far as I can see.

    • I think the strong wind was favourable for the early starters. It made that descent off the cathedral a bit dangerous but presumably blew them in to town too. Ganna set off later and gave it the full beans but only beat Yates by the same sort of margin he beat Asgreen and Cavagna in the Worlds. Kruijswijk, Fuglsang and Majka were a little unlucky in that sense.

      • Wind was everything. Endresult can not be used to compare riders from different startgroups. Crosswind gusts in the city was too strong for the first riders.Wind was optimal for the middle group and the last group had a dead on headwind until the 90 degree turn in downtown Palermo.

        Fuglsang wrote afterwards that he had a headwind until the turns in the city and could only ride 72km/h while pedaling on the descent – in recon he did 94km/h not pedaling. Benjamin Thomas saids something similar.

        I noticed that Sagan among the first starters did 100km/h without pedaling.
        Last night Bjerg said he did 92km/h on the descent without having to pedal (started within 4min of G.Thomas)
        20km/h difference while not having to pedal on the 6% descent is a +30 second gain just for the descent.

    • The three factors that caused big time gaps (between riders who “shouldve” finished closer to each other):
      (1) The ability of the DS to read the weather forecast and to properly understand what it meant for the race conditions.
      (2) An optimal judgement between taking the risk involved in riding when the sidewind was at its strongest and using the advantage of the tailwind when it was at its strongest.
      (3) The technical skills, the daredevilness and the sheer luck of the rider.

      Those who had chosen an early starting time reaped the benefits – if they kept the rubber side down and if they didn’t experience near incidents or hairy situations caused by a wind gush that slowed them down or stopped them from going as all out fast as some others.
      Those who started maybe just an half hour later when the wind had relatively speaking died down easily lost 30-60s.
      In other words, it can be difficult to compare riders, Yates, for instance, wasn’t necessarily stronger than Nibali and I don’t think it is an insult to suggest that on a “normal” day Almeida wouldn’t have been in Top 10.

      • I missed Yates’ ride yesterday but I thought that the wind may have taken its toll rather more on him. He’s tightened up his TT though and that was a decent effort.
        But, still, almost 30” down before they’ve even got going is tough.
        No TT, no GT.

  6. Interesting you rate G higher than Peter Sagan on this finish, PS seems to be the top pick elsewhere. It is often good to stick out from the crowd. I would like to see Michael Matthews take a win but it does seem very open.

    I thought yesterday went much as predicted though Simon Yates did well, perhaps he was lucky with the wind. No doubt G has a useful lead but there is an awful lot of racing to come on very unpredictable roads. Plenty of time for big shakeups in the GC. That said yesterday’s stage had a very similar feel to the Düsseldorf TdF stage from a couple of years back, G actually won the stage (his first yellow jersey) and Sky went on to dominate the race.

    • It looked like he hit a pothole or sunken drain because for some bizarre reason he was riding in the gutter. If he had taken his hands off the hoods to move to the drops on a normal bike the same thing would’ve happened I’d say.

      • As a non-bike rider (never mind TT bikes) I’ll certainly bow to greater knowledge. It’s just that TT bikes look so ‘wobbly’ in the first place – especially when under those who are not keen on them (and by the lord must Lopez not be keen on them – I can’t remember a GC rider who was worse at TTs).

        • Yeah. TT bikes aren’t the best for bike handling. Difficult to know if Lopez would’ve saved things if he’d been on a normal bike. I’ve been out and through confluence of a momentary lack of concentration and ‘chaussée déformé’ I’ve had similar wobbles, and not crashed, but I quite easily could have.

        • Watching the replay a number of times, he changes to the drop bars and puts his fingers on the brake lever….When he squeezes the front brake the front wheel shudders violently, as if the brake was grabbing, instantly. I would guess it was a technical involving the front brake calliper and disc.

  7. Worth noting there is a Sprint Point just 12km from this uphill finish. Perhaps the organisers want to satisfy the sprinters a n d the GC stage-hunters with the uphill finish so early on, when traditionally it would be one for the fast guys.
    (In previous years Sprints were listed as ‘TV’,short for traguardo volante, which caused no end of confusion for those of us trying to find out when coverage would start..)

  8. Love the new EF kit – harking back to old times when kits weren’t uniformly dull.
    Bravo to the UCI for fining them – keeping on top of the big issues, as ever.

    • You either like it or you don’t (I’m in the latter category, but I guess it’s just a matter of years people yell “boomer” at me), but it’s nice to see outside-the-box jersey designs in general.

      As for the fines, Vaughters knows exactly what he’s doing, he knows the rules, he knows why they exist, and he chose to ignore them, hence the calculated outrage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote his tweet/press release complaining about the fines before they even dropped. I don’t have stakes in this, but they’re playing a weird game, IMHO.

  9. Anyone rue as I did that inrng made no post re: Liege-Bastogne-Liege…?

    Hard to believe a pro stops racing with 20 meters to go in a Monument…

    • I think after xxxxxx and xxxxxxx had collided, xxxxxx forgot that xxxxxxx was still there. LBL had a better startlist and top ten than any GT this year though.

    • Yeah looking through the first and second groups to finish – it is noticeable how many GT riders were up there, including Porte and Uran, mixed in with many of the “usual” Classics specialists. Heck, the 1st and 2nd place finishers from Le Tour were together in the leading group of five at the line. When is the last time that happened in a classic?

      I think it is fantastic to have so many of the best riders, in top form, together in a one day race like this. Surely this is a result of the unusual calendar this year, with LBL being held two weeks after the end of Le Tour. I like this changed dynamic though – which makes me wonder if more of this sort of configuration would be good for the calendar as a whole? Put classics right after then end of a GT, so all of the riders targeting said GT can easily roll through into a classic or two before taking some time off.

    • His 2 best finishes in 9 grand tours to date were both 21st (in the Giro – 2012 & 2016.) Average finishing place was 36th (not accounting for one DNF).

      So, no…*

      * But raises question: Can we flatly say either way in Covid Year 1? Perhaps not…

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