Giro d’Italia Stage 2 – Victory for Merlier

The stage expected to end in a sprint, did just that and the name at the top of the result sheet was Belgium’s Tim Merlier. Meanwhile, the rider in Pink, Filippo Ganna, will continue to do so after winning more bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint.

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Giro d’Italia Stage 2 – Victory for Merlier!

The Stage expected to end in a sprint, did just that and the name at the top of the result sheet was Belgium’s Tim Merlier. Meanwhile, the rider in Pink, Filippo Ganna, will continue to do so after winning more bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint.

The second stage and first road race of the years first Grand Tour was 179 kilometres long over an undulating parcour. Three riders from the smaller teams in the race dominated the stage until the last intermediate sprint where the peloton caught the two remaiing riders and Ganna launched a sprint to take maximum bonus seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel. It was then a battle to the line as teams lined up alongside each other at 60kph, GC teams and Sprint teams protecting their key riders.

In the rush to the line through a very technical finish twisting and turning, wide to narrow roads, first Sebastian Molano sat up and then inadvertently put his sprinter Fernando Gaviria into the barriers (he stayed upright). Into the final 200 metres with the finish line yet to come into view, Meirlier launched alongside Giacomo Nizzolo whilst Elia Viviani and Dylan Groenewegen were also in the mix.

Merlier held on to win the stage, his first Grand Tour victory from Nizzolo, Viviani, Groenewegen and Peter Sagan.

Tim Merlier reaction:
Q: Tim, this was your first chance to target a stage in a GT, and you didn’t miss out. How do you feel?
A: “Yeah, I’m really happy, really thrilled. I’m very happy with this victory in my first sprint at a Grand Tour. My preparation at altitude has been good. I was confident before tackling the Giro.””

Q: Can you take us through the last 600m? How important was it to be well positioned into the last curve?
A: “Yeah, I know there was a roundabout, really important in the end, and when I saw it, I knew already I was in a good position. I came out, I was only thinking, you need to go faster, faster, faster, and then I was in a great lead out bringing me into the perfect position, I started far out, 250 metres, but in the end it was enough, so…

Q: This morning I asked you how important it was knowing you have won more than other sprinters. Do you feel confidence helped a lot today?
A: “Yeah, I’m really happy. I was at an altitude camp together with my girlfriend, to prepare for here, and it paid off today.”

Filippo Ganna post race reaction:
Q: Congratulaions, you have extended your lead. What went through your mind before that second intermediate sprint?
A: “No, it was just to take the second from the other leader for the other team, to remove the time [bonus], also for the gap and help Egan and Pavel for the GC for the next days. Maybe in the future if we can take or not the jersey for 3 seconds, we know, we may want to.”

Q: Did you expect other GC riders to go for it?
“Yeah, obviously, I see also reconciled to take second, and me and Gianni removed 3 and 1, so it’s good job for us.”

Q: Does it mean you want the Maglia Rosa as long as possible?
A: “Yeah, tomorrow is hard. We know it is the perfect stage for Sagan because it is a lot of twisty down, up and down, really nervous, but we can try to have the jersey for another day on my shoulders.’

Q: How enjoyable is it to have the jersey in your region, Piemont?
A: “Yeah, it’s amazing, so today, there’s a lot of people to say, Come on , Filippo, come on! And it was special!”

Caleb Ewan was one of the top favorites for the stage win on stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia, but the leader of Lotto Soudal was nowhere to be seen. The Australian eventually finished tenth. “We were already too far back to over the last two kilometres,” says Ewan. “Every time we wanted to move up there was a corner” Ewan says of the twisty and turny finish. “The peloton were going from left to right every time, so we were blocked if we wanted to go forward. In the crucial part of the sprint, the last 500 meters, we were just too far behind. ” Lotto Soudal and Ewan were therefore unable to get involved in the sprint battle. “It was difficult to sprint. It is disappointing to start the Giro like this, but we can learn from these mistakes” he says.

Peter Sagan: “The stage was quite straightforward and it played out the way we were expecting, with a fast sprint finish. Up to the last kilometres, it was easy but in the finale, you had to be really focused as it could be messy. It was important to stay safe and avoid any crashes. I think the result reflects the field of sprinters in this Giro. I’d like to thank again my teammates for their work all day, I felt that my condition is getting better.”

Dylan Groenewegen: “I have to be satisfied with this fourth place after nine months of absence”, Groenewegen said. “Though I am still a bit disappointed. I am a winner and I always want to achieve more. But the fourth place in my first sprint is certainly not that bad. My legs are feeling good, so I’m looking forward to the next sprint. The team did very well today. This is my first time with Dekker and Affini. That is something I have to get used to, but due to them I was placed in a very good position. The sprint went quite well and better than expected. Maybe I should have started earlier or maybe I should have hesitated a little less. I just have to get that old feeling back as well as my self-confidence.”

Giacomo Nizzolo (2nd): I think overall that I got the best out of it (the situation). Merlier did a great sprint so I think today the strongest won. Obviously, as it was the first stage of the Giro, everybody was full of energy so the sprint was quite hectic and I found myself in a good place with 1km to go. I had a good wheel, I tried to overtake him but obviously it was not enough. Overall I’m happy and I think that we’ve started this Giro well; and hopefully we can get a better result in the coming days. In terms of the team, we’ve shown good legs yesterday and today as well, so we look forward to the stages to come.”

Davide Cimolai (9th): “Normally, the first sprint in a Grand Tour is always the most complicated one as everybody has fresh legs. Especially today as we went slow all day until the sprint. I’m not happy with my ninth place. I dropped my chain with around two kilometres to go and had to chase back to the front, wasting a lot of energy. However, the good thing is that my condition is good. We will try again for sure.”

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