Giro Stage 2 Preview

The first summit finish of the race.

Turin Test: a stage rich in sport and information, particularly in the last hour. The early breakaway went clear and the UAE team took up the reins behind. No poker, no mind games, they just got to work. Lilian Calmejane was among the six up the road and held out solo long enough to take the mountains jersey for the day.

UAE kept on setting the pace including up the Colle Maddelena. The good news for them was their pace ejected riders like Romain Bardet and Luke Plapp who’d both lose a minute while Thymen Arensman who lost two minutes (his team mate Tobias Foss lost eight). Their GC bids are not over but all the same derailed by one short, regular climb in mild weather and with Arensman especially it means Ineos can’t play the 1-2 attack already. Yet the bad news for UAE was that if they’d boiled the group down to 30 riders they evaporated too, only Rafał Majka was left with Pogačar.

Several riders went clear on way to the finish but they were swept up on the San Vito climb. Majka pulled over to launch Pogačar. The Slovenian was out of the saddle for longer than La Redoute but this time he couldn’t shake the field off his wheel. Jhonathan Narvaez was straining but held on, while Max Schachmann was within range and the trio cleared came into Torino to sprint for the stage.

If Pogačar could replay the sprint he might launch later but as good as he may be he doesn’t get these abilities. Narvaez was quicker for the stage win and if Gianni Bugno might be smiling because his 1990 feat of leading from start to finish stands, Pogačar takes 14 seconds on his rivals and UAE don’t have to work as much today.

For Narvaez a triumphant return after crashing out of Gent-Wevelgem, and Ineos get the win and the maglia rosa and it’s welcome to see Schachmann back too after a long spell where each recovery from illness seemed to see him struck down by a new virus.

The Route: 100km around the Canavese plains, a land of cornfields to supply polenta dishes. Then into the Alpine foothills with some climbing but nothing severe, wide roads and gentle bends for the most part but they help to soften up the field. It changes the character of the stage compared to 2017, when the race last visited Oropa and sped across the plains straight to the foot of the climb.

The Finish: an Alpine summit finish. Listed as 11.8km at 6.2%, it’s got a gentle start and a flat but cobbled section in the middle so the typical gradient is steeper. The obvious launchpad is marked with the warning triangle above, this time it’s not the inside of a hairpin bend as there’s short section that is steeper.

Back in 2017 riders came in almost one by one, with only 23 riders within two minutes of the winner Tom Dumoulin. So it’s selective but the tactics today could be different. It flattens out just before the line.

The Contenders: us bloggers have it easy thanks to Tadej Pogačar (UAE). He can pick his place on one of the climb’s steeper portions or just win the sprint from a group. But this is conditional on his UAE team wanting to control the stage all day, arguably the mistake they made yesterday. That said perhaps precisely because Pogačar was beaten he and they want to win today.

The last three riders to win here are Bruseghin, Battaglin and Dumoulin so do we look for Sutterlin, Grondin, Trentin? They don’t climb that well so Alex Baudin (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) fits but he’s riding high on GC already in the white jersey. Today’s climb is normally too long for Narvaez but he has to give it everything and the finish can suit Max Schachmann.

Picking among other famous names is hard because if they are there, so is the little cannibal from Komenda. Still Julian Alaphilippe and Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal-Quickstep) are not immediate GC threats to Pogačar, likewise Esteban Chaves (EF Education-Easypost) can be great on short climbs and

A breakaway could try to hold out for the stage and 120 riders are now already four minutes down on GC so are not a priority to close down. “Wheel of fortune” picks are Simon Carr and Jeferson Cepeda (EF), Alexander Kamp (Tudor) and Ewen Costiou (Arkéa-B&B Hotels).

Carr, Chaves, Cepeda, Alaphilippe, Narvaez

Weather: mainly sunny, 20°C

TV: KM0 is at 1.05pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in for the final climb around 4.40pm.

Postcard from Oropa
A regular issue for Italian cycling during the Giro is to get noticed while the football season is still on, easier now Inter have already won the Scudetto. Then if people do talk about cycling, the next challenge is to go beyond Marco Pantani.

Today the Giro does to Oropa, which in the (translated) words of La Gazzetta is “written Oropa but reads Pantani”. The Giro has been here several times but the visit in 1999 gets all the mentions. The manner of Pantani’s win that day was remarkable: distanced with a mechanical at 9km to go, he then got paced back by team mates before riding through the field like a chainsaw through mozzarella (youtube here).

Triumphs at Oropa by Vito Taccone, Piotr Urgumov, Marzio Bruseghin, Enrico Battaglin (pictured) and Tom Dumoulin are footnotes. This is testimony to the indelible presence of Il Pirata and nostalgia for the days when he was winning and seemingly untroubled. Just, as it was a matter of days until his downward spiral began when he was ejected from the Giro following a blood test.

While English-language outlets might have anniversary pieces to commemorate his death or Giro-adjacent features, in Italy he’s regularly cited in the sports pages and beyond; new conspiratorial angles surrounding his death appear in magazines; there are numerous books, including many recent and new editions.

Pantani is a persistent reference point, the denominator of Italian stage racing. When up-and-coming Davide Piganzoli gets profiled in a newspaper the title incorporates Pantani. Pogačar doing the Giro-Tour double? “Like Pantani” proclaim the headlines. Not to say we should forget Pantani, just to point out just how large he still looms.

47 thoughts on “Giro Stage 2 Preview”

  1. Surprising to see Bardet and Arensman lose so much time yesterday. Will they manage to stay with the main GC pack today or continue to drop down?

    • Agreed, at least for Bardet. He has shown recent form yet many lesser climbers survived the day while he lost time.

      A wise UAE would look for some easy days now though that’s not Pogi’s style.

      • Yeah, interesting to see how Bardet will fare today. Yesterday however, besides being surely a bad day, didn’t fare him much. He’s a fondo man and a first stage of three hours or so, short training distance but at furious speed, isn’t his thing.

        • He looked pale yesterday, as if ill but it’s hard to tell, the team just says “a bad moment”. He is Mr Endurance as you suggest, better after 250km than 50km, better after three weeks than 3 days etc but something went wrong.

          • Yeah, Cassani said he looked “imballato”, an effect of a hard stage 1 when you prepared to be strong on week 3 (although that’s not usually the case when you’re strong at Liège), or similar to what happens ob the stage after a rest day (here on a bigger scale: too much tapering with no proper “richiamo” close to the performance day).

      • The team apparently said they were not worried, and he only had ‘a bad 5 minutes’. Stomach issues were also mentioned.

        I hope it was a one off, and that he can finish with a great result.

  2. I thought Tadej Pogacer was not riding at 100% yesterday, he seemed to be holding back a little. If true it would make sense no point in using up energy for little gain. It is always easy to over analyse the first stage of a GT the result is not likely to have any great bearing on the final result

  3. I wonder if Ineos are trying a completely new tactic. Rather than trying to live with Pogacar they’re going to try and frustrate him by taking stages from him so that he breaks himself. We won’t know for a while but I don’t believe Arensman and Foss aren’t able to climb with Ganna.

    • For a big brute of a guy, Ganna climbs surprisingly well.
      Bardet said apparently he was going for stage wins rather then GC so him losing time is no disaster.
      Team UAE did what team UAE often tend to do, namely mess up whatever plan they had on stage 1, by burning up all their matches too early. That Narvaez & Schachmann hung on and challenged for the sprint was a surprise, going from Pogacar’s form earlier this year.
      After today (Sunday) the GC guys will be just trying to keep out trouble until Thursday next week, I suppose stage 2 might see the GC guys all trying to keep as close to Pogacar as possible.
      UAE have said they want to control the race from day 1 and even talked about “training” for the Tour so maybe a little climbing training for Pogacar today.

      • Ganna went really hard yesterday, the moto journo noted how his bulk stood out amidst a reduced group or more typical climbing bodies. I wonder if he’ll try the much harder feat of keeping a reasonable distance today in order to try and go for pink in the next ITT. Looks like an impossible mission, but he looks in top shape while maybe Pogi is in relative energy-saving mode.

  4. “Several riders went clear on way to the finish but they were swept up on the San Vito climb. Majka pulled over to launch Pogačar”.

    Maybe I read (or saw) it wong, but in the above sentence it looks like the break was reeled in by Majka during the San Vito, whereas I think that Pogačar was forced to attack from the very start of the hill because the time gap was still too substantial (not as much as the crazy “Tudor” GPS was showing of course), and it was him jumping – ahem, à la Petit Pantani – through a more than decent number of riders still on the front.
    I believe this was very relevant for the final result because Pogi had to move perhaps a bit too soon, preventing him from making a most explosive single effort (on a different scale, it was reminiscent of his 2022 Poggio too repeated efforts). Besides, unlike Redoute which was nearly mathematical, true rocket science, he had to shift a lot the pace as you typically do when you climb amidst rivals, which again isn’t optimal.

    Again, I might be wrong as I couldn’t replay the stage, or see the usual TV replays and highlights just after, but I feel Pogi had slightly too light a gear for the final sprint.

    • One report confirms that UAE used up the team too early and Pogacar had to go early,

      “UAE worked throughout the whole day to fatigue the climbers and classics specialists, with the goal of making the difference on the final climb. In a way, it backfired, as the lack of men following the penultimate ascent led to attacks coming off the front. This forced UAE into burning off the rest of their men until the base of the final hilltop, where Pogacar had to to the work on his own.

      “Unfortunately, on the last climb I had to attack from the foot, where Narváez was also very strong and could follow my wheel. The gap to the group in front of us was too big and I had to give everything to close it. The fact that I managed to drop all the GC riders is a good signal from my legs.” However when it came to the stage win, Narváez managed to follow, and Max Schachmann took advantage of the lead he had coming into the climb to then link up at the front.”

    • Majka didn’t do much if any chasing, he could just take a turn on the climb to position and pace Pogačar, it was a dangerous moment being out of team mates already, they needed Bjerg or Großschartner there. When Pogačar went I thought the cadence looked higher as well but haven’t measured it.

      • Yeah. Despite Pog looking strong and distancing GC rivals there were positive signs for rival teams. UAE left him isolated with riders evaporating and that’s going to happen even more if they try to control the rest of the race like they did yesterday. Tovarishch made an interesting point abut rivals’ team tactics!

        • Maybe teams will try to exploit Pog’s biggest weakness – himself. Sort of like the Simon Yates issue a few years back where he was going for everything left, right and centre. He looked so strong day in, day out until he didn’t – and imploded. Not that Pog is likely to fall apart so spectacularly against these GC rivals.

      • Majka had been working for some 20 kms all alone, with the only help of a short-lived spontaneous Astana turn, promptly called back by the team car probably as soon as they saw it on TV. Pogi had only him from the last kms of Maddalena on. Bjerg had made the monster turn which blow up the bunch on Maddalena, it wasn’t him to be missed, rather Groß & Rui, who also had a bad day of sort, coming home 10 and 15 minutes behind without much work on their shoulders.
        Such a mistake (Baldato said that you can expect a day off from a single gregario, not two of them… I’d rather say they weren’t able to shift plans adapting to what was happening) made for great racing, the last hour was a show and a lesson about how even cycling gods can be pushed away from victory on a given day (cf. MvdP at Gent).

  5. An example of the Pantani long-term impact, of course, but the Antimafia Parliamentary Committe of Inquiry worked on a in-depth revision of the Madonna di Campiglio events, concluding that a number of serious anomalies against norm and protocols are proven, both in the test as such and in the following police and court actions. The official final report states that the manipulation of the test is the most effective scientific explication for the results and the most compatible with data.

    I think that because of that nowadays it’s pretty much safe, and, above all, long due to slightly rewrite that old story: “… when he was ejected from the Giro following a probably manipulated blood test”.

    Parliamentary committees, as in Sky’s case, are institutions external to cycling which can often be the only way to get some insight on situations which are entangled in illegal actions by part of different parts of public institutions themselves.

  6. Re: where to attack, we’ll indeed know more about Pogi’s form and attitude.
    The “triangle zone” would be the most cost effective for a stage win in an energy-saving mode, although he’d risk to repeat yesterday’s circumstances as the road soon flattens at 5% (where Dumoulin placed his powerful counterattack).
    Favero, just before or after the cobbles, is the best option to have a GC impact (is Pogi interested in such an impact, now that the “full pink” perspective has evaporated?). Yet, the risk is suffering from the same fate as Quintana 2017… they climb up at some avg. 23 km/h, which makes slipstream pretty relevant: so, even if Quintana went up at literally *Pantanian* speed for the first part of his attack, Nibali could then bring Dumoulin back. Closing on the final hard stretch the Colombian tried again but he had no jump anymore and as the road became flatter, the big engines put him against the ropes. Pogi is very different of course and he can hold on and even increase the gap whatever the gradient, but the general idea here is that despite the “climby” nature of Oropa, still it’s a very fast ride, hence affected by slipstream, and a relatively short top effort (a dozen of minutes once the false flats are over), which makes it open to heavier or more explosive riders.
    Absolutely perfect for an all-in top-form Pogi, but, as I said, precisely because of that we’ll be able to evaluate his form and attitude depending on the strategy he picks and its subsequent results.

    • Arensman’s dad went on an anti-Ineos rant on a since then removed post on X: (paraphrasing) “The best thing about the start of a grand tour is that there are no more trainers who can ruin a rider’s shape.”

  7. I came here to see if you were going to honour the Pantani antics of ’99. No visit to Oropa is complete without worshipping at the altar of il Pirata. The Youtube video is the very zenith of 90’s attacking riding and no one quite took the piss quite like Marco.

    It’s about time I made a visit to the mountains again..


  8. I had Narvaez down as a classics specialist and didn’t expect him to be at the sharp end of affairs with Pog yesterday. Can someone more informed than me confirm that he will most likely relinquish the pink jersey today?

    • I didn’t pick him yesterday but he was an a longer list of contenders (easy to say after of course but he’s featured late into Liège, won the very mountainous Austria Tour, won the TDU this year etc) and we’ll see today, he is obviously in great shape and could surf the wheels for a long way up the climb but… Pogačar.

  9. May I reccomend to whomever is ready to listen Italian language the RAI broadcast when Cassani is in. Impressive to see him back. He identifies instantly the riders, and promptly comments about not only the big names but also who’s working on the front, who’s left and who’s gone among gregari of different teams, who’s keeping a good position, what work in which position is anybody doing for the leaders. A whole different way to enjoy the sport.

    There may be mistakes, of course, but the quality is shocking.

    A funny one was when Borgato (normally excellent) commented from the moto about Gebre doing an impressive work always on the front of the break (great day by the way even if with occasionally poor tactics). Only, TV images were showing him dropping back after being caught by the bunch. Good work by Pancani and Cassani correcting the mistake to avoid confusions but without underlining the mistake by the colleague, whom I suppose to have the line prepared a couple of minutes before, then albeit not having the current situation in sight (precisely as the jury moved the moto away) it wasn’t changed.

      • Dunno if you got the Rizzato short hint on air but your definition of “slow start” was an exceptionally appropriate turn of phrase… they were long left with no motos because of some unspecified absurd situation!

        That said, for me, as I said, Cassani is the added value. Race RX 2.0

        Pancani wasn’t perhaps in his best shape ever but he’s a bit of a “cold” guy (which I prefer to the opposite) and might need some stages to warm up.

        The “culture bits” by Genovesi are a very good idea but quantity, rhythm and tone must be perfected. After some years now, I start to doubt he’s aware or even wants to try, which might mean a change of person is needed.

  10. And, to start with, great viewing figures in Italy around 1.7M (great for a 1st stage). Of course, it’s all about how they’re going to survive later on through the more boring days or in the case of too dominant a leader.

    • I wonder if the football/Torino angle helped?

      It’s interesting to see how the (Italian) media is preparing the ground for a dominant leader, Pogačar is being compared to Pantani and Merckx and that this is history in the making, a special time to witness etc.

      • I personally doubt so. Torino has a decent number of fans, but the impact of any small team is more local, and the figures are far from impressive, barring the top 5 teams. Juventus is nationally in the range of 10M generic fans (not ultras or even passionate followers), Inter and Milan some 40% of that, Napoli is further back – short of 3M – and Roma barely gets close to 2M. The rest of “big” teams (top 10 in terms of fans), including Torino, is around 500K more or less.
        Of course put all that together and sum after sum figures soon become huge, involving a third part of the total population or so.
        However, those who aren’t fans or direct rivals aren’t much interested in the history of other smaller teams.
        We’ll know more cross-checking today’s figures.
        I suspect that the Pogi hype brought in front of a TV screen whomever might be more or less interested in watching cycling and had a decent opportunity to do so. The course also helped.

        You are absolutely right on the second point. The stage just ended and Pancani commented something along these lines =>
        P: “Everybody was eager to see if the Giro would start under Pogacar’s star, and what can we say, Davide?” D: [Silence] P: “Of course, it was Pogacar’s day, Pogacar defining the race, as everybody was expecting.” Indeed… and yet… ahem.

  11. guys does anyone of you know, if there is an official download-site for the race documents in format PDF, results, points, bulletin, press release like you can find on
    since tudor took over i can’t find someting like this anylonger. please help

    • Timing is done by EMG Italy. The daily bulletins aren’t published online but get emailed out to media in the evening. There was nothing to signal yesterday, just a warning/reminder to teams not to have staff in the road when it comes to hand up food and drink, to stand back etc.

    • AFAIK, he has no plan to compete in Vuelta this year. After TdF, he surely aspires to win the Olympic road race in August and the World RR championship.

    • I guess you’re joking but hope no male rider ever does this! It would truly be a jumping the shark moment for cycling. There is a record I believe Pogačar could and perhaps should aspire to – to be the first rider to complete The Triple Crown twice (Giro, Tour, Worlds in same season). Not even Merckx managed that, only doing it once in ’74. Stephen Roche is the only other rider to do it, in ’87.

  12. Bit of a scare when Pog’s front, hookless/tubeless tire punctured, causing a minor, low-speed crash in a turn. Tire didn’t roll off but seemed the carbon rim was sliding on the road surface.
    The best tubeless tires will save a few watts vs tubular, but at times like this, one wonders if it’s a good tradeoff. Properly glued tubular will rarely allow rim-to-road contact.
    Very impressive how Pog smoothly rolled his body a couple times to absorb impact, and jumped right back up without any signs of road rash. It’s as if he’s had some martial arts training (jiu jitsu, aikido, etc) where you’re trained to instinctively fall like that.

    • Perhaps we should all have a little more certitude that Marco Pantani – up there, looking down on all of us – has had a gentle word with the Roman dieties to say, “Now is the time for history to repeat itself. Let it be.”

    • Hopefully some clever person will come up with a technological “solution” to this (pun intended) eg a quick and easy way of gluing the bead to the rim that is also easy for mechanics to remove. Or perhaps a new bead/bead seat interface that is more secure, perhaps needing a special tool to “undo”. For racing applications only.

  13. Really enjoyed both first two stages – and just realised Michael Storer is now on Tudor, have been wondering what an earth happened to him after a promising Vuelta a few years ago.

  14. How sad to see a revival of the weird deification of Pantani, a hapless drug abusing cheat even by cycling’s pathetic ethical standards. What next, Big Tex given a free ride?

    • …just look for “rosicare” in an Italian slang dictionary.

      The really sad thing is that people and what’s even worse media can’t go beyond the duality of (self-) oblivious deification or the bitter and unfair derogatory rage which is displayed above.

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