The day’s plan was sailing neatly enough en route to the finish of Stage 1 for the sprinters, yet one minor tangle and a rider dropping the wheel left Lukas Pöstlberger to slip off the nose of the peloton, claiming his first grand tour win at his first grand tour appearance. The sprinters shall wish to avoid such a nightmare once again on Stage 2, hoping to seize control of the 221km passage from Olbia to Tortolì, a day which offers little in the way of flat racing until the final kilometres. Those who are able to survive the day’s climbing without having to dig too deep will be the favourites for the win once the race descends towards Tortolì, the run into town featuring roundabouts and turns; the final approximate 2km are simple enough however.
Caleb Ewan will no doubt be fuming after seeing Lukas Pöstlberger steal the show on the opening day, the pocket rocket Aussie chasing home the Austrian rider at an incredible rate of knots. His Orica teammates were perhaps most responsible for allowing the win to slip away from them, but should be on the ball once again on Stage 2 in order to compensate for their oversight. Ewan is perhaps the most lightweight of the sprinters and should find the climbing within his abilities, hoping to stay protected in order to preserve his energy for the final kick to the line.
Fernando Gaviria lost his leadout train during the final moments of Stage 1 and was left to haul himself up to the front of the peloton under his own steam. The amount of rolling terrain present in the second day of this year’s Giro d’Italia should play into the hands of the Colombian rider more so than any of his rivals. Their misfortune yesterday was not their own fault, so QuickStep are unlikely to be particularly demoralised, leaving them as focused as ever to catch their opening win of three weeks.
André Greipel has never particularly enjoyed days like these at grand tours, though the German powerhouse has definitely improved when it comes to climbing in recent seasons. The relatively simple finishing straight is ideal territory for Greipel to dominate, yet it seems doubtful he will make it to the line in contention without having overcooked himself along the way. It may prove more worthwhile to save his efforts today and instead focus upon winning the expected sprint on Stage 3.
Giacomo Nizzolo performed well beyond expectation on the opening day of his native grand tour, challenging convincingly for a podium place as the peloton tried to chase down the breakaway Austrian. The tricky technical finale certainly benefited him, but his performance suggests that he could be in the mix once again on the second day.
Kristian Sbaragli has looked in good form since finishing the Tour of Yorkshire, not fast enough to challenge the fastest on a normal sprint stage, though has the strength to climb nearer the podium on a day like this. If the day’s pace is not too intense, he may have a chance to seriously contest the finish in Tortolì, though the contrasting ambitions of his team could mean he is not gifted a great deal of protection during the day.
Sacha Modolo is another hope for home fans to take the first Italian stage victory of 2017’s Giro d’Italia, even though he is far off the pace of the fastest sprinters, the day’s climbing may drain his rivals enough to bring him into greater contention.
Others to consider are Luka Mezgec, Moreno Hofland, Enrico Battaglin and Jasper Stuyven.
1st Fernando Gaviria 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd Kristian Sbaragli