Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Preview

A flat stage for the sprinters. They have few opportunities in this race so this is an important stage for them and their teams.

Catch of the Day: blasting past the trabocco fishing huts, Remco Evenepoel got as much he could have hoped for, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Filippo Ganna, that’s more than a second quicker per kilometre better the rider seen as the best time trial specialist of his generation. GC rivals were left trailing, João Almeida was the closest at 29s, Tao Geoghegan Hart at 40s and beating expectations, both impressive. Roglič fared worse than imagined, losing 43s and seemingly labouring at times when normally he looks so smooth but he’ll see the positive side where only three GC rivals beat him. The imagined duel has taken a knock but we’ll see what the mountains bring next week.

For those thinking the Giro’s done, you can often extrapolate information from a prologue so an 18km TTis a less clue about form, more a signed statement. This could well be a luxurious, extravagant performance by the Belgian prodigy that will continue for three weeks… but there are four Sundays left and it could also be hubris in a three week tale of the hare and the tortoise, the story is yet to written. We’ll see if any testudine challengers emerge but for now they’ll be receding into their shells given the 30km time trial this time next week.

The Route: A stage for the sprinters with a handful of sharp climbs along the way to give something to TV viewers and get the mountains competition going and an incentive for riders to go in the breakaway as they can take the jersey in what should otherwise be a futile move. Today’s course borrows some of the spiky hilltop ramps from typical Tirreno-Adriatico stages of recent years. There are two categorised climbs, plus the climb mid-stage to Chieti isn’t rated but it’s as hard as anything else on the route. There’s 70km from the last climb to the finish, plenty of time to regroup.

The Finish: a dash along the coast to a roundabout and then the long away around which slows things down and rewards positioning. When they exit the roundabout the road isn’t as straight as the map suggests, it bends round more meaning the next turn with 1km to isn’t immediately visible. The final right hand bend opens onto a wide road to the line.

The Contenders: there are not many sprinters in the Giro, let alone dragstrip specialists, you can’t blame them given the route. Pascal Ackermann (UAE) probably needs the win today more than most as he’s less versatile if it’s hilly but his win rate is poor of late, not easy to back. Alberto Dainese (DSM) won a stage last year (pictured) but doesn’t win often either. Mark Cavendish (Astana) wants the Tour de France win and will have to surf wheels by himself and his win rate is low too.

The form pick could be Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) who has just won in Romandie but still a touch erratic compared to his best years. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is on the up and has a decent leadout squad. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) isn’t really a sprinter but can always turn on the power.

Gaviria, Pedersen, Groves
Cavendish, Ackerman, Dainese

Weather: a sunny day, 23°C.

TV: the climb to Chieti is around 3.15pm and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

71 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Preview”

  1. It seemed to me that the time trial was a good day for UAE. They look strong for the climbs so it will be interesting to see how they play those cards … in a few day’s time.

    • I had the same thought. It’s very well form Remco to sit in and defend but for now at least he has 3x UAE, 2x Ineos and Rog to keep an eye on, all within a minute of him. A lot to keep track of. Could his urge to dominate lead him to costly rash decisions?

    • Besides, the three UAE look perfect to be deployed in combination, long raids for McNulty, attacking climbs from below for Vine and tracking Remco for Almeida.

      • They can’t all go together though because if they do then Evenepoel just latches onto the back of them.
        I was thinking that they could possibly take turns to attack but that probably wouldn’t sit too well with the designated leader.

  2. I’ve not seen the climbing times anywhere but it seems Roglic and Evenepoel were almost identical, so the former lost it all on the flat. Conclusion is that UAE, Ineos and SQS have the best aero. Not much else!

    • “Conclusion is that UAE, Ineos and SQS have the best aero.” C’mon, the massive budget the first two have to buy up top riders along with SQS having the fastest guy don’t explain that? It’s the f–king BIKE? How did Kung manage to get up there then with such inferior “aero”?

      • Küng is a TT specialist. On PCS he has a rating 3x higher than Almeida and 5x TGH. He finished behind both of them.

      • The Cycling Podcast interviewed Jack Haig before the stage yesterday, and his theory was that there were going to be clumps of riders from the same team around each other in GC (especially at the top), because it was a really aero-dependent course. Looks like at least one of the pros shares your conclusions, Tovarishch

      • Well, Larry, if you’re wrong, and it is about the bike, that would show that you’re right and they should make everyone ride TTs on road bikes.

        I’m always sceptical about the various claims made about bikes (and other technologies) and how much difference they make, but I don’t know anything about the subject.

        But if there is any advantage of certain bikes, then that’s the reason to get rid of them. It should all be about the rider. It definitely should not be about the bike, and if the bike sponsors don’t like it they can suck it up. They could also concentrate on showing the public how reliable their bikes are, and thus they wouldn’t be worried about the final time trial and the potential (or supposed) lack of mechanical support.

        • I think it would be great if the support cars were banned. It would lead to a surge in engineering race bikes to become more reliable. In the end this will benefit consumers, because they buy the same bikes but don’t have cars following.
          Average speeds will slightly suffer as they will be riding tires with thick anti puncture layers, tough wheels that don’t bend in a crash etc. And there will be instances where a race is decided on bad luck, but those still exist anyway. A nice extra is that it might introduce a tactical element where a rider might decide torace a faster, less reliable bike in an all or nothing effort.
          I think there should be some leeway for massive crashes, you don’t want half the peleton out on day 2. Maybe have a limited nr of bike/wheel changes allowed, e.g. one per one day race and 5 for a grand tour.

      • I’m with Larry here – if the bikes and kit made that much difference, then why isn’t half of Bora-Hansgrohe sitting in the top 10 alongside Remco, given they’re on the same bikes, same helmets etc…UAE & Ineos have so many clustered in the top 10, cos they’ve got lots of money to buy the top riders, and have both come with multiple leadership options

    • The rider is still the biggest factor in aerodynamic resistance. Wind tunnel testing and specific training for finding a specific way to sit that is aero and still allows you to put power on the pedals is something some teams invest in more than others.
      Bora and Soudal use the same Specialized gear, no? UAE equipment didn’t look as sophisticated as some of the others.

  3. Remco was schooled in Catalunya by Rog. Sitting up to wave at the photographers and show off his rainbow stripe on the finish line meaning that he was one second down rather than one second up on the ice cool Slovakian. Remco then saw Rog stretch out his lead each day after having sat on Remco’s wheel on each climb. That will have taught Remco a lesson. For me the interest will now be to see who joins Remco on the podium and whether Remco wants to stay in pink all race.

  4. As ever one of the best bit of the Grand Tours is reading Inrng every morning.

    I thought the most impressive ride was by TGH, unless I have my numbers wrong he was 2 seconds faster up the final climb than Remco Evenepoel and just missed out on the KoM jersey(!) to Brandon McNulty. His riding on the flat was not too shabby either.

    Remco Evenepoel was clearly riding a different race to everyone else, it will be interesting to see how he will deal with the hype and level of expectation. It would be fascinating to hear from someone who looks at the Belgian media to understand just what a big deal this is. Apparently some reporters are claiming he has “fast skin” after he opted to wear a short sleeved skin suit!

    Jumbo Visma dont look to be in a happy place, I agree about not reading too much into an opening TT and “Still 20 stages to go, eh?” is absolutely correct but not sure this is going to be a two man show.

    It will be interesting to see how the teams play this, Quickstep might not find it so easy to “give away” the jersey and this is all rather new territory for them. Do Ineos fall back on the Team Sky playbook and play the long game or do they look to set up an “ambush”. UAE look strong too. Then there is the general Giro stuff, the forecast I have seen suggests unsettled weather for the next few days, light showers maybe some thunder later in the week all on the hilly roads of southern Italy. It seems to be this is all set up nicely, I dont see a procession on the roads to Rome.

    • +2. I guessed the meaning from the context but don’t recall coming across the word before. Admittedly I do hate reptiles so can’t say I’ve ever chosen to read much about them!

    • Yeah, that is a word rarely used in cycling blogs. We have acouple of Testudos Hermanni here at home, så I chuckled to myself when I read that word.

  5. People still seem to be excited by these incredible performances. They are very impressive, but they don’t usually lead to good racing. I find it much less interesting than a close race. If this was the TdF, and Evenepoel was up against Pog and Vin and had this kind of lead on them, that would be very interesting.

    Evenepoel is likely to take >2 minutes on the rest of the GC field over this and the other flat TT (never mind the later one). Is Roglic going to take that sort of time back on him? Unless Evenepoel goes pop or faces some other kind of calamity, that already looks highly unlikely.

    I wonder if RCS are already regretting having so many TT km.

    One thing they brought up on the TV – as always, but this is early – was, ‘Are we going to see an alliance between the teams against him?’ Genuine question: does anyone have a recollection of that ever happening? I can’t think of a time.

    • The point is this is not July which is much more organised and controlled (can you imagine the Polemica over the final TT happening in France it would have been sorted months ago). Something will happen over the next 20 days, most likely when no one is expecting it (stray water bottle, badly parked police motor bike etc etc). Remco Evenepoel’s and his team’s challenge is to be able to deal with that. We saw for years how Team Sky struggled to impose themselves on this race, they could dominate at the Tour but got nowhere in Italy. In is why this race is a better watch then the Tour. If stage 1 of the Tour had such a result as yesterday there would be a significant chance of Remco Evenepoel being in Yellow all the way to Paris cant see him in Pink all the way to Rome.

      • You may well be right, but that’s very much my point: it likely take some sort of calamity. I just don’t see Roglic, or anyone else, taking two minutes on Evenepoel in the mountains.
        Sky only sent their best rider to the Giro once. Froome in 2018, and he won it.

        • Calamity – or a bad day.

          Evenepoel is not invincible. There’s a reason he’s not brave enough to tackle Pogacar and Vingegaard (yet). He don’t consider himself to be a TDF contender level – that’s clear. He’s not the star – rather a mere starlet crouching in the shade of giants.

          Let’s see what happens. The Giro is a beast – it’s not trivial to tame it.

          • Without any astrology or “map to the stars”, perhaps it’s also being just 23, one lost season already on his back, and also the mistake of going too hard too soon for the Giro. Plus, his rivals would be obviously more mature than him and indeed harder to tackle than what Pogačar ever had to face at the TDF (except… in the mirror every morning) ^___^

      • The polemica wouldn’t have been possible in France because teams are afraid of ASO, and rightly so. Not at all about organisation (do I have to cite some of the incredible fiascos of ASO?), although the Tour is obviously on a different level when money are concerned, and all that money can buy, of course. Maybe about “control”, depending on what you mean with the word…

    • Guess you weren’t around Italy in 2019 😛

      Roglic put 20″ onto the closest rivals and 47″ on the future winner Carapaz in a 8 km prologue, with more suiting ITT kms to come. In San Marino, stage 9, Campenaerts could keep close, the rest was at least 1 min back. Carapaz lost further 2 mins and was barely in the top 20 in GC, 5 minutes back. Then we had altitude, multiple long range attacks, big mountains and… with no need of any special calamity, Roglic hardly made it to the final podium (8 seconds over Landa…), while the one left regretting strategies and prospectic mistakes was actually Nibali.

      And 2020? Until stage 15 (!!!) neither Tao or Hindley were on the radars for a final victory, both about 4 minutes back, Tao never in GC daily top 10, Hindley briefly before falling out due to the ITT. It looked about Almeida and Keldermann, with Bilbao, McNulty or Nibali in for a possible long shot in the mountains. No special calamities had to happen, either.

      Etc. etc.

      The good thing about the Giro is that the sheer volume of efforts implies that significant changes are possible even from a striclty athletical POV, even before factoring in all the rest.

      Ps Alliance among different teams, yesterday at La Vuelta.

      • All true, but I don’t see Evenepoel as having the weaknesses that Roglic had in 2019, and if he did, I’d expect Roglic might have them too.

        And I don’t see some surprise challenger coming along as in 2020: I suspect he’s too superior

        But I could be wrong about both – and I hope I am – Evenepoel is relatively untested over multiple long mountain stages.

        Nibali should have learned from what happened with Horner.

        Alliances between teams with GC contenders in a men’s three-week grand tour? I’m sure it’s happened at various times, historically, but I can’t think of one – and, crucially, how recently has this happened?

        • Against Nibali in 2016 Giro (e.g. st. 14 and 16), against Purito in 2012 Vuelta, against Evans in 2009 Vuelta. I share your point re: being something way harder than TV pundits seem to believe, but it’s something not that unprecedented, albeit uncommon. At the TDF is way more complicated because people feel that it makes more sense to defend even a 7th place or so, be them right or not (my take: “not”).

    • There are often ‘alliances of circumstance’ where teams will work together in a specific race situation that has materialised, because both have something to gain…sometimes riders will talk to each other in the peloton to try and cajole others to join them in a move…but commentators often seem to talk about alliances as if teams are ‘ganging up’ together with a pre-planned move that’s been discussed over the breakfast table – that doesn’t happen!

      • Well, that sort of hotel talk is been happening a lot in the past, so maybe it still happens, only you typically know after careers end, it’s not something they boast about around… for a series of reasons. However, it’s also possible that nowadays it’s happening less than before because the cycling world is now vaster, so the network of acquaintances – for example those from when the DSs were all racinh – is less tight.

  6. This result is perfect for UAE and J-V as Evenepoel is going to do endless long sessions of protocols and interviews while their protected riders are straight into warmdown and soigneur sessions over A WHOLE THREE WEEKS which has to be worth less than a minute on anyone’s GC.
    UAE especially must be thrilled by the way their riders went, with Almeida really having to send it to be the best of a great team.
    Plus Movistar got a Barta bonus, since he must be looking to his next contract to follow Jorgenson out the door.
    Both these top rides were first missed on the coverage and in commentary on English-speaking Eurosport, even though Almeida had his minute and two-minute men in the finish.

    • This is another thing we hear about and is accepted without question: does being the race leader and having to do the interviews and so on really cause such a disturbance?

      • I imagine that very much depends on the rider, some will quite enjoy it, others would very much not. In any case even those riders who are into it would probably rather skip it in the third week when mental fatigue is really biting. I guess the ideal would be to have a relatively quiet race then vault into the Maglia Rosa on stage 18-19-20 … something something..P-I-N-O-T 🙂

      • An hour or so less rest than your competition each day can’t be good.

        Trouble for Remco is that if he doesn’t have pink he’ll have white jersey duties regardless

  7. Of Mads Pedersen, both he and Magnus Cort are battling to become only the second dane to win a stage at all three GTs. First was Jesper Skibby. Though he has admitted to being doped at the time, his results still stands.

  8. So the KOM jersey went to the wrong rider – oh well, just need a fuzzy photo-finish and everything will be up to date!
    Remco’s biggest opponents could well be UAE as Jumbo seems to be in disarray. Hart did well, but G surprisingly blew up on the climb.
    Hope all come home safe with that tricky finish.

    • Quite concerning this happened in a GT … do the UCI ever audit timekeeping accuracy I wonder? I suspect probably not

      • Tudor… great sponsor change 😛
        Double sponsorship, team and races, it often works to get invites and so, but when you’re not prepared for what you need to provide on the big stage being technical sponsor, uff, it can backfire big time.

      • Larry T. with his wool covered wooden mechanical stopwatch had all the times accurate, in the armchair. Give him the job.

  9. Permit me a bit of a gripe about the UK GCN/Eurosport coverage yesterday, Rob Hatch and Sean Kelly pretty much talked over and therefore missed many of the critical moments in the race, eg the 10 seconds leading up to the moment when Evenepoel went fastest at the first time split, then again when Roglic didnt. Normally I like the Hatch and Kelly combo but in a short TT these moments matter a lot and yesterday was vague and hard to follow. Maybe they’re building form as the Giro goes on 🤔

    • Rob Hatch has become a parody. He spends more time talking about history (of cycle racing) than the current race. I turn off his commentary now. Best Eurosport commentators are Joanna Rowsell and Ian Field (plus Jose Been)

      • I’m ok with Hatch, I know he has a few detractors but I like his enthusiasm and respect for the spectacle, plus I love the History side of things so that’s all good with me. Agree about Rowsell and Been being good, not sure who Iain field is, did he do Vuelta Feminina with Rowsell?

        • It’s time to stop the criticism of Eurosport for a bit, especially after yesterday when they served up la Vuelta feminina’s best ever stage with Jo Rowsell and super-recogniser Marty. Plus the Giro where Rob Hatch is just a bit overexcited and anyway, the producers miss a few things, like the clock on an ITT. Best of all was the fast-improving Jez Cox with 5x national champion cyclocrosser Ian Field who happens to have a very good turn of phrase to go with real insight. They got to cover another brilliant Tro Bro Leon.
          Top Day for Eurosport.

  10. Though he lost, I’m actually very impressed with Ganna’s ride. Given info’s have, I think, persuaded him – rightly – he can do more than just TT, yet he’s still delivering times like that and actually lost less time up the climb than across rest of the course. (I know, shorter, but..). I hope Ganna develops the confidence to match what he’s capable of over the next few years.

    Ineos look good – 5 riders in top 20,a strong team.

    Just love the Giro!

Comments are closed.