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Saturday, May 7, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath. - Aeschylus


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2022 Giro d'Italia stage one reports

We posted the report from Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's the race organizer's stage one report:

Everyone was waiting for him. They had already sewn the Maglia Rosa on him as soon as he announced his presence at the Giro d’Italia. This stage suited him perfectly. He couldn’t miss it. And Mathieu Van der Poel, like the champion he is, carried all the expectations on his shoulders, put the team on the pace throughout the stage, was patient on the final climb to Visegrad and in the last 200 metres he unleashed all the power of his wonderful engine. And although he was the big favourite, winning was far from easy: 150 riders were out there coveting that jersey which takes you straight into legend…

The Dutchman, son and grandson of art, had already embarked on the road to legend some time ago, but today he wanted to set another milestone, wearing a symbol that father Adrie and grandfather Raymond Poulidor had never had the honour of wearing. Once again, it is worth remembering the palmares of this 27-year-old phenomenon: he has won the Tour of Flanders twice, the Amstel Gold Race once, the Strade Bianche once, four times world champion in cyclocross and European champion in cross country MTB. A versatile superstar, a league of its own, who still has many goals to achieve, as he himself admits.

Mathieu van der Poel will start stage two in pink. Sirotti photo

In the meantime, he has had the pleasure of wearing the Yellow and Pink Jerseys, the most iconic jerseys in this sport. That’s right, because last year he made his mark on the Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage two of the Tour de France, jumping to the top of the general classification and carrying the yellow jersey for a few days. At Visegrad, on a rather similar finish, he did the same thing and now hopes to enjoy the Maglia Rosa for a few days, although tomorrow’s time trial is going to be an important test for him. Mathieu himself admitted that “to wear the Pink Jersey after having worn the Yellow Jersey is something historic, of which I am very proud”.

The setting was more than worthy of Mathieu. Budapest, the Hungarian suburbs and Visegrad were coloured pink, they welcomed the Giro in a magnificent way, showing once again how the love for this race has no boundaries. Hungary is trying to build a tradition in this sport, to bring the youth closer to cycling, and the Giro will certainly provide great help in this sense.

Here's the report from second-place Biniam Girmay's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team:

It was only his Grand Tour debut this Friday, but Biniam Girmay conquered the white jersey as best young rider by taking second place in the opening stage of the Tour of Italy (2.UWT), defeated by only Mathieu Van der Poel.

Biniam Girmay has the young rider's white jersey. Sirotti photo

The Belgian World Team made his performance possible by taking its responsibilities from the start on the Heroes’ Square in Budapest. Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe led the chase behind two leaders for more than 100 kilometer, neutralizing a gap of more than 11 minutes.

Once the breakaway was caught, the peloton took the direction of the final climb towards Visegrád (5.5 km at 4.2%). Several riders tried to avoid a group sprint with an attack, but that was without taking into account the sacrifices of Loïc Vliegen and Lorenzo Rota, who climbed at an intense rhythm enabling Biniam Girmay to sprint for the victory.

With 250 meters to go, Girmay launched his explosive effort and was in the end only defeated by van der Poel, who took the pink jersey. Thanks to his performance, the 22 year old Eritrean rider will start the flat and technical 9.2 kilometer time trial through the streets of Budapest with the white jersey on his shoulders.

"Yesterday, the team surprised me with t-shirts showing the lettering "Veni, Vidi, Bini", which reflect our ambition to win in this Tour of Italy. From the first stage, in my first Grand Tour, I was already close to achieve this and I'm very happy about it. I conquered the white jersey at the end of a fantastic collective performance and therefore I want to thank my teammates and staff. Rein Taaramäe, who controlled the breakaway and the rest of the team who protected me from the start and made the final hard. I launched my effort with more than 250 meter to go and I really dug deep. Mathieu van der Poel was the strongest today, but more opportunities are waiting for us." - Biniam Girmay Hailu

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Here's the Giro d'Italia stage one report from third-place Pello Bilbao's Team Bahrain Victorious:

It was a strong start for Team Bahrain Victorious on the opening stage of Giro d’Italia as Pello Bilbao showed took an impressive third place.

The Grande Partenza of the 105th edition in Hungary saw the riders take on a 195km course from Budapest to a tricky final climb up to Visegrád. The 5.6km climb had an average 4.2% gradient meaning only a handful of sprinters would be fighting it out for the Maglia Rosa. The peloton had an easy day on the saddle until that finale, controlling the two-man breakaway that was brought back with 14km to go.

On the final climb, attempts of Naesen (AG2R-Citroën) and Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) to anticipate a selected sprint were unsuccessful, and as expected, few riders battled to contest the first stage win of this Giro. Among them was our climber Pello Bilbao, who is proven on fast finishes. The favourites of the day, Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), accelerated in the final hundred meters alongside Ewan, who crashed right in front of our Basque rider. Bilbao finished off his sprint in 3rd position, behind the winner and first Maglia Rosa Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), who crossed the line in 2nd place.

Pello Bilbao is on the far right in this picture of the stage finish. Sirotti photo

Pello Bilbao: “It was not easy to properly understand how I was feeling today as the stage was going relatively easy. Therefore I didn’t know how I could be during the final climb. I knew today could be a good day for me, and in the last 30 km, I rode focused on my aim. Phil gave me great support, positioning me before the right corner. In the end, I lost the position with a crash at 2 km to go, but happily, I recovered and was ready for the final attack. Taking the 3rd place in the sprint is a good way to start the Giro”.

Sixth-place Richard Carapaz's Team INEOS Grenadiers posted this report:

Richard Carapaz made a strong start to the 2022 Giro d’Italia, sprinting to sixth on the opening stage.

The Ecuadorian was well positioned and looked comfortable on the five kilometre climb to the finish in Hungary.

He had compatriot Jhonatan Narvaez for company in the final metres before the sprint took hold, with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) emerging to take victory and the early maglia rosa. Narvaez remained within the lead group at the finish to take 11th.

Salvatore Puccio had arrived at the front with 3.5km to go to help control the pace, with Carapaz positioned well on his wheel. As the pace finally went up a pair of crashes punctuate the finale, with Richie Porte going down briefly with 2.5km to go. Despite that the Tasmanian was able to quickly remount and finish the stage ahead of Saturday’s time triai.

Up until the finale the stage had played out in relative calm, with the Grenadiers looking to conserve energy ahead of a long three weeks.



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Eighth-place Diego Ulissi’s UAE Team Emirates posted this Giro report:

UAE Team Emirates had quiet but encouraging start to day 1 of the Giro d’Italia in Budapest, with veteran Diego Ulissi taking 8th place in the uphill battle to the line won by Mathieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

The stage from Budapest to Visegrád (195km) sprung into action in the final 5km at an average of 4%, with the uphill rise to the line marking out the pure sprinters. It was Davide Formolo who hit out at 700m to go to set up his teammate Ulissi. Ulissi would find himself outpaced by the heavier puncheurs, but showing good legs for the weeks ahead.

UAE Team Emirates at the teams presentation ceremony on Thursday. Sirotti photo

Ulissi: “I think we did good work as a team today. We were in a good position coming into the base of the last climb. In the end I stayed with the front guys and did my sprint but the others just had that bit more of a kick in the end. The main thing today was to start strongly and we’ve shown we are in good shape so we’ll focus now on the next stages.”

Joao Almeida was never far from the action, and finished just behind the leaders in a group with most of the other main GC favourites.

The Portuguese all-rounder would concede 4’’ to the winner and will look to a strong performance in tomorrow’s 9km time trial around the streets of Budapest.

Tom Dumoulin’s Jumbo-Visma team posted this:

Team Jumbo-Visma has come through the first stage of the Giro d'Italia well. On the last hilly kilometres in Visegrád, the yellow and black brigade remained in the front group for a long time but fell short in the sprint to play a significant role.
For the 105th edition of the Italian stage race, the cycling caravan descended on Budapest, where the riders left for a 195 kilometre-race. Immediately after the start, two Italian teammates took the lead. The duo quickly saw their lead increase to more than ten minutes, but due to the efforts of several sprint teams, the gap was closed quickly.

Several riders tried to surprise the peloton with an ultimate attack in the stage's final hilly kilometers. However, no one succeeded and a power sprint would decide today's winner. That proved right for Mathieu van der Poel, who will start in the pink leader's jersey tomorrow.

Tom Dumoulin, Tobias Foss, and Sam Oomen finished in a large group at four seconds. "This was a good and quiet first day", sports director Marc Reef said. "Tom and Sam were well positioned at the foot of the climb, while Tobias witnessed a crash just before him. With Edo's help he was able to come back. In the end, all the classification men finished around the same place together."

Tomorrow an individual time trial of slightly more than nine kilometres is on the programme. "It will be a special day. With Tom, we have someone who can compete for the stage win and Tobias has also proven that he can ride a good time trial. For Sam it's about riding the best time trial possible and limiting the damage as much as possible."

Dumoulin kept a good feeling about the first day. "It was a boring, slow stage with a fierce final. On the final climb I was in around 30th place and that was fine for me."


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Here's the report from Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

Budapest – the capital of Hungary and former twin capital of The Dual Monarchy – became Friday afternoon the 14th different city to host the Grande Partenza, huge crowds lining out both sides of the road and making an electric atmosphere as the peloton gathered for the start of the opening stage, a 195km journey to Visegrad.

This 2022 Giro d'Italia is about to start. Sirotti photo.

Two riders surged clear soon after the official start was given, but despite the huge lead they got to have at one point, they didn’t stand a chance of holding off the peloton, who had just one thing in mind: make sure the race is back together by the foot of the day’s only difficulty, the 5.5km climb to the Visegrad Citadel. Averaging 4.2%, but kicking up to 8% some three kilometers from the finish, the small ascent witnessed a fierce battle for positioning, with many teams keen on bringing their leaders to the front.

Riding his fourth Giro, Michael Mørkøv did an excellent job on the ascent, guiding Davide Ballerini towards the head of the bunch, but the tension in the group as things became more and more hectic took its toll on the field and several men hit the deck inside two kilometers to go. Davide was among those who hit the deck and couldn’t contest the reduced sprint, won by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). Fortunately, the Italian got up on his bike and completed the stage, without any major consequences, and will be at the start of Saturday’s individual time trial in Budapest.

And here's the report from Attila Valter's Team Groupama-FDJ:

Friday from Budapest, Hungary, in Attila Valter’s hometown. A wearer of the pink jersey last season, the young man from the Groupama-FDJ cycling team was able to fully enjoy this Grande Partenza on home soil. He was also the first rider of the team on the line (29th), as Arnaud Démare unfortunately suffered a mechanical problem in the uphill finish, where Mathieu van der Poel took it all.

Attila Valter in pink in the 2021 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

It was party time on Friday in Budapest for the start of the Giro, and many eyes were on local star Attila Valter. In front of his family, friends, and public, the 23-year-old Hungarian enjoyed a considerable dose of encouragement before setting off for the first 195 kilometres of the “Corsa Rosa” towards Visegrád. With the breakaway establishing itself after just one hundred meters, and with only two riders from Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli inside it, the whole peloton was able to head to quite a calm day. Which also enabled Attila to measure his fellow countrymen’s enthusiasm.

“It was incredible today”, he said. “Many riders came to me and asked me “what’s going on here? They expected to see the start of a Grand Tour, but it was maybe more than that. It was maybe a revolution for cycling in Hungary. It was crazy. I told my friend Erik Fetter that if I had received one euro for each person that said my name, I could buy the castle next to the start area (smiles). It was amazing, I can’t say more. I felt like I was dreaming. At a certain point, I didn’t even know if it was real”. The race, however, briefly took over after seventy-five kilometres when Arnaud Démare took fourth place in the intermediate sprint, then getting five points for the cyclamen jersey.

Mattias Bais and Filippo Tagliani, meanwhile, enjoyed a ten-minute lead at best before some teams decided to take on the chase. Slowly but surely, the gap narrowed, and the tension clearly rose within the peloton with about thirty kilometres to go. In the wake of Clément Davy, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team moved up at the front and tried to stay there. The leading duo was caught thirteen kilometres from the finish, and the fight for positions before the final climb to Visegrád (5.5 km at 4.2%) kept on going. “For this punchy finish, we had two cards: Attila and Arnaud”, said Sébastien Joly. “We had done a recon of the finish, it was steady, and we could feel Arnaud was very motivated. The guys protected our leaders really well in the valley, before the bottom, and then placed them well for the climb”.

Although two attacks made the race harder in this last hill, the elimination happened from the back, and Arnaud Démare was unfortunately forced to let the peloton go with about one kilometre left to do. “I hit some riders, which made me lose several positions, and I broke a pedal cleat, which prevented me from pedaling with my two legs”, he explained. “I would have really liked to test myself longer, and see how far I could have gone”. “They got boxed in a bit twice,” added Sébastien. “Nothing big happened the first time, but the second around time around, Arnaud had to unclip and broke his cleat. On this kind of finish, you need to stay away from any slowdown, and he did not get lucky. Anyway, we saw commitment and energy, and that’s what we wanted”.

As for Attila Valter, he placed 29th on the line, four seconds behind the winner and first pink jersey Mathieu van der Poel. “Of course, I would have liked to do a better result, but I was next to the crash halfway up the climb,” added the Hungarian. “I wasted a lot of energy to come back. I still passed quite a few riders in the end, and I did my best. I felt strong today, that’s a good sign, and it was also important not to crash. I obviously have a bit of mixed feelings about the result, but I enjoyed this day”. He won’t lack support tomorrow either, on the nine-kilometre individual time trial in Budapest.

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