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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 13, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you. - Steven Wright

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Giro d'Italia stage two team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

The second stage of the Giro d’Italia consisted of 205 km from Bologna along the Apennin range to Fucecchio. It was earmarked as a stage for the fast men, however the course was more hilly than many had expected. The first 50 km of the parcours ran uphill, followed by a third-category climb in Montalbano and a fourth-category climb in San Baronto in the second part of the course. The last kilometres offered some twists and turns before heading onto the straight finishing line.

Pascal Ackermann

Pascal Ackermann takes the stage. Sirotti photo

Although considered a stage for the sprinters, rain at the start, cold temperatures and wind made this course anything but easy. After only a few kilometres a group of eight riders escaped but the peloton, led over long stretches by Cesare Benedetti, did not allow the elastic to stretch too far, and so the breakaway never gained an advantage of more than 4 minutes. On the Montalbano climb, the breakaway disintegrated, and Bahrain-Merida took to the task of increasing the tempo. The advantage of the remaining 4-rider leading group was whittled down to less than a minute.

With 18km to the finish, BORA – hansgrohe came to the front to bring the breakaway back and later position Pascal Ackermannn for the sprint, and ultimately, under the tempo of the squad from Raubling, the escapees were finally reeled in. The sprinter trains came to the front and with only a few kilometres remaining, Lotto - Soudal and BORA – hansgrohe took the lead at the head of affairs. Caleb Ewan was able to get ahead with 200 m remaining, but in the end, Pascal, the German champion, was able to launch his sprint from behind and in the last metres overtake Ewan and Elia Viviani to take out his first Grand Tour victory. With this win, he also took the ciclamino points jersey. His teammate Rafal Majka retained his 6th place in the general classification after the stage.

From the finish line:
"I'm incredibly happy to have won here. Even though I meet my competitors like Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani at other races, it is special to have taken the win here at the Giro. Of course there is more pressure to win at a Grand Tour and that is why I am so happy. It was my first chance for a win and we accomplished our goal. It is also very special to me to have won wearing the German championship jersey.” - Pascal Ackermann

“This is a good start to the Giro. Two years ago we took that memorable stage with Lukas Pöstlberger and then last year Sam Bennett won multiple stages, and now this year, we've notched up Pascal's first Grand Tour victory. It is a well deserved win. The team rode in the front the whole time, controlled the breakaway well and did a great lead out. We are all super happy about this fantastic result.” - Jens Zemke, Sports Director 

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has come through the second stage in the Giro d’Italia without any problems. As a result, tomorrow he can start in the pink jersey again.   

PRimoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic signs in before the start of stage two. Sirotti photo

The stage was characterised by an early breakaway that was caught in the last ten kilometres. On the way there were several breaks in the peloton, but eventually, a large peloton sprinted for the victory. Team Jumbo-Visma kept leader Roglic well in front during the stage, although the bad weather didn’t make this easy. Even in the mass sprint that ensued, the Slovenian leader didn’t face any difficulties.

“It was a fast stage today”, Roglic said. The rain made for cold circumstances from the start and the short climbs weren’t too difficult. Nevertheless, we have demonstrated today that we are a strong team. I’m glad I can start in the pink jersey for yet another day.”

Paul Martens rode a strong stage. The German looked back at today’s stage with a good feeling: “The weather made it a more difficult stage than predicted. Our job is to guide Primoz through these stages and we did that today.”

Tomorrow’s stage goes from Vinci to Orbetello over a distance of 220 kilometres with a fourth category climb on the way.

Here's the report from second-place Elia Viviani's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

Rain, wet roads, and cold temperatures accompanied the riders as they left behind Bologna, the city that in the Middle Ages knew many turbulent times due to its central position in the Peninsula, which made it the object of ambition for the likes of Cesare Borgia and Louis Xll.

These conditions and the two classified climbs packed inside the final 50 kilometers made stage 2 of the Corsa Rosa a tricky one, especially as the sprinters’ teams had to push a strong pace on the ascents in order to reel in the eight-man breakaway, but not hard enough so that their leaders would safely make it to the finish in Fucecchio, where a bunch gallop was expected.

Neo-pro Mikkel Honoré was prominent at the front of the field from the very outset of the stage, controlling the escapees’ gap and putting in a sterling work on both the flat and hills. A Grand Tour debutant, he 22-year-old Mikkel devoted all his energies to the team’s goal of fighting for victory at the end of this edition’s first road stage, bringing back the leaders inside ten kilometers to go, before things became nervous, impacting the finale.

The sprint was hectic and more chaotic than usual, mainly because of a crash which split the peloton under the flamme rouge arch. Having made the cut, Elia Viviani was well-placed in the reduced group and opened his sprint with 120 meters to go, hitting a maximum speed of 71.2km/h and taking second behind Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), for his 30th top 3 finish in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey.

Giro d'Italia

Another view of the sprint showing how close Viviani (far right) came to winning. Sirotti photo.

“I was in a good position, but Ackermann anticipated the sprint in the tailwind, while I waited too much before kicking out. I had a very fast 50 meters, but that wasn’t enough. On the plus side, the feeling is good and our team is motivated, which gives me confidence ahead of the next sprint stages”, Elia said in Fucecchio, a finish town at the Giro d’Italia for the first time in the race’s history.

Lotto-Soudal previews 4 Jours de Dunkerque

The team sent me this:

The 4 Jours de Dunkerque is a French stage race in the region of Hauts-de-France. This Europe Tour race will take place from Tuesday 14 May until Sunday 19 May. The course of the 65th edition consists of six hilly stages. Last year, André Greipel took two stage victories for Lotto Soudal. Jelle Wallays and sports director Frederik Willems look ahead to this race.

Andre Greipel

André Greipel wins stage two of the 2018 Dunkerque race

Frederik Willems, sports director at Lotto Soudal: “This stage race comes right after the spring season. The course certainly is not easy, especially the stage to Cassel, but also the other days include some hills along the way. As we’re racing close to the French coast, the weather conditions are often pretty unpredictable. At the moment, the weather predictions do not look very nice. Perhaps, these are small factors, but all together they make a great difference. During the first stages, I expect some bunch sprints, however a lot is depending on the previously stated factors.”

“Jens Keukeleire will be one of the protected riders in our team, but we need to await his feeling in the race itself. Jelle Wallays surely is very important to us and therefore we have missed him in the Flemish Classics. Dunkerque will only be his first race after his crash in Argentina, but he was able to train enough to reach the right shape. He can test himself by going on the offensive. Stan Dewulf is someone who perfectly sees how the race will unfold. He will get a free role in some stages, for example the one to Cassel. In other ones, he could go along with an interesting breakaway and that way protecting the rest of the team.”

Jelle Wallays: “During the long rehabilitation, I really got to know my own body better, because each time during and after the training, I needed to wait how it would react. In the run-up towards the Omloop Het Nieuwblad, I felt it would not be possible to ride the spring Classics. I certainly did not want to force anything, so I immediately shifted focus to later goals. Just before the Tour de Romandie I got sick, a serious setback… Unfortunately, my comeback was postponed by two weeks, but things like that happen. Now everything is going according to plan again and I am really looking forward to riding in Dunkerque. ”

“My role within the team still needs to be discussed. I expect that I will mainly help the team, since I have just restarted competition. On training I occasionally pass through Cassel and in the past I already rode the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, with a similar stage to that climb. Riding in bad weather conditions is no problem for me. Then there is more action, so I actually like that. ”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, Jens Keukeleire, Rémy Mertz, Brian van Goethem, Jelle Wallays and Enzo Wouters.

Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.


Stage 1 Tuesday 14 May: Dunkerque – Condé-sur-l’Escaut (172.9 km)
Stage 2 Wednesday 15 May: Wallers – Saint-Quentin (177.7 km)
Stage 3 Thursday 16 May: Laon – Compiègne (156.5 km)
Stage 4 Friday 17 May: Fort-Mahon-Plage – Le Portel (179.8 km)
Stage 5 Saturday 18 May: Gravelines – Cassel (181.5 km)
Stage 6 Sunday 19 May: Roubaix – Dunkerque (187.3 km)

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary