Greipel Powers to Stage 2 Victory in Giro d'Italia
The second stage of this year's Giro d'Italia stretched 221 kilometers across the hilly Sardinian landscape. The stage began in Olbia and it did not take long before a breakaway was established. Teklehaimanot, Koshevoy, Andreetta, Owsian and Shalunov were the breakaway hopefuls of the day, after some earlier attempts had failed.
Four of the five breakaway riders stayed ahead of the chasing peloton until the last climb, only Simone Andreetta had already been dropped before the riders began to contest the climb.
On paper the Genna Silana, a second category climb of almost twenty kilometers, seemed ideally designed to decide the stage, but there were no big accelerations from the peloton, though all general classification favorites were well-positioned at the front.
An almost complete peloton started the descent of around thirty kilometers. With Vincenzo Nibali determined to prove his general classification favorite role, the Bahrain-Merida team set a high and intensive pace in the descent and had the peloton completely stretched out, causing trouble for some riders, including Ilnur Zakarin. The sprinter teams organized their sprint trains and lead-outs in the final kilometers of the stage, each one hoping its sprint ace would take the win.
Andre Greipel (Team Lotto-Soudal) was well-placed at the front of the bunch, surrounded by his teammates. He outsprinted Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) and Jasper Stuyven of Team Trek-Segafredo at Tortolì at the end of a stage that was more than six hours long, because of strong head winds. For the first time in his impressive career, the Gorilla moved into the lead of a Grand Tour. Greipel will be wearing the Maglia Rosa leader jersey on the third and final day of the 100th Giro's visit to Sardinia.
"It is a childhood dream to wear a Giro d'Italia race leader jersey like this. I tried to get it last year and it didn’t work out. I tried yesterday again and it didn’t work out either, but today it went well," stage winner and race leader Greipel explained after being celebrated on the podium.
"At the beginning of the day, I didn’t believe it would be a bunch sprint finish. I expected more attacks, especially on the last climb. The bunch could have been blown into pieces up there, but the head wind gave us - the sprinters - a chance to win the stage."
"There was some more head wind towards the two kilometer mark, but my whole team was compact. Every team member played his part. Bak, Hansen, Marczynski, Hofland, De Buyst. I was one position behind Luka Mezgec (Team Orica-Scott), hoping that he’d keep pulling. I waited for the good moment to deliver the decisive win for the team and for myself."
"I dedicate this victory to all the people who are helpful to me and particularly to my mother who is going through difficult times at the moment, but she’s a fighter. We’re all fighters," an emotionally moved Greipel concluded.
Greipel leads the general classification of the Giro d'Italia. Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora - Hansgrohe) is four seconds behind Greipel. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) is in third position, eight seconds behind.
Today's stage victory for André Greipel was the seventh in his Giro d'Italia career.
Sunday's stage 3 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia takes the riders on a journey from Tortoli to Cagliari and is basically flat, featuring just minor and gentle hills throughout the route. The first 90 kilometers will be contested on a fast-rolling road, passing through a number of tunnels. After leaving the ss. 125, the riders pass Villasimius, where they will contest an intermediate sprint before contesting a few short climbs along the coastal road of the island of Sardinia. Climber classification points are up for grabs at Capo Boi. Then follows a perfectly flat stretch of road, leading to the anticipated sprint finish in Cagliari.