Giro D'Italia 2018: Stage 2 - Haifa to Tel-Aviv (167 kms)

After Tom Dumoulin's mind-boggling TT yesterday(apparently he rode at 880 Watts for 18 seconds on the last uphill), the focus shifted on Day 2 of the Giro D'Italia.

A 167k, largely flat day which meant more to the sprinters than others.

Tom Dumoulin had made it clear yesterday that SunWeb won't be defending the Maglia Rosa. Given there were 2 Intermediate Sprints (one at 22k & 2nd with 61.7k to go) and the 1st KOM points on offer(3 points at 76k to go), 13 time bonus seconds and a maximum of 90 for the Points classification jersey, the day might not be that boring after all. Legendary sprint kings, Elia Viviani (QuickStep Floors) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) were favourites to win. Also, licking his chops was Rohan Dennis(BMC), after being out-ridden to the Maglia Rosa yesterday by Dumoulin. With the bonus points on offer, Dennis could make up the 2" gap between himself & Dumoulin and become one of the few to wear the leader's jersey in all 3 Grand Tours.

Dumoulin looked sharp in his pink jersey(not like Rafael Nadal's shocking pink clothes at the Australian Open).

After riding 11.9k in neutral zone, the 167k stage started. There was an early break, as Davide Ballerini(Androni) tried to go solo, and was joined by Victor Campenaerts(Lotto-FixIt, rather than Lotto-Soudal for the Giro D'Italia) & Guy Niv (Israel Cycling Academy).

Campenaerts, who was in 3rd place, also 2" behind Dumoulin, also had his eyes set on the Maglia Rosa. BMC didn't like Campenaerts going on his own and pushed the pace and caught him.

Ballerini attacked again, this time joined by Lars Bak(Lotto FixIt), as they built a small gap of around 1 minute from the Peloton. With 140k to go, as the Peloton reached the Central Acres, there was a crash because of the narrow roads.
Guiallaume Bovin(Israel Cycling Academy) made use of the commotion and joined the break. But with 135k to go, the break was struggling and was down to 30", with Ballerini back in the peloton. Viviani won the intermediate sprint, taking 8 points in the Ciclamino Jersey (points jersey) classification, currently being worn by Rohan Dennis.

Campenaerts tried to join the break again, but BMC & SunWeb weren't happy and kept the pace up.

A strong headwind greeted the riders at 128k to go at Ahihud. Dumoulin stopped for a pee break, and unlike last year, everyone slowed down. The break continued to grow up to 1:40 with 125k to go, but Campenaerts was caught behind.

With 110k to go, the break consisting of Bak & Bovin stabilised at 3:30. Team Sky & SunWeb were riding at the front, keeping their leaders; Froome & Dumoulin safe.

With the hill approaching at 76k to go, the teams began to push the pace, with BMC at the front.
Even with the headwind, the break was riding at 48kmph and the peloton was pushing at 60 kmph. The gap came down to around 1 minute with 85k to go.

With 81.5k to go, the gap was down to 40" and with this speed & commotion there was a crash at a sharp right handed turn 78.5k to go. SunWeb's Chris Hamilton was among the 2 riders who went down.

As the riders began climbing the hill, there was incredible commotion among the breakaway with no-one willing to push. And the peloton behind them were coming for the break, with just 9" between them and the break. Androni's Enrico Bardin attacked from the peloton, having been shielded all day from the wind and tried to bridge to the break.

The crowd was wild and all over the place, running alongside the riders.

Bovin tried to take it for the "home" team, Israel Cycling academy but behind him, Bardin, shielded by crazy Israeli fans came for him. Bovin tried to push, but Bardin made his move with 150 meters to go and secured the KOM jersey for Androni.

Once the climb was over, BMC caught the break and everyone was together with 75k to go. 61.7k to go was the 2nd sprint with 3", 2" and 1" bonuses on offer for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

BMC lead out Dennis perfectly, with Elia Vivani on his wheel. Dennis won the sprint, taking 3 seconds and moving into the virtual Maglia Rosa. Vivani was 2nd, scoring some more point in the Ciclamino Jersey classification. Campenaerts was quite unhappy on being held back and rode away from the peloton opening a 10" gap for  no reason, but was caught. Boivin again began a breakaway, this time to gain some more airtime for his sponsors, but the Peloton ended up chasing some unexpected men riding in the Pink Jersey!

The guy at the front was actually quite fit. Boivin was building his breakaway, moving up 46" with 47.4k to go and 1'25" with 35k to go. Remi Cavagne(QuickStep) tried to push the pace of the peloton as they chased down Boivin, who had ridden heroically throughout the day.

Note: If you are a nerd like me and like numbers, check out the Velon app on AppStore and Google Play. It gives the power, heart rate, cadence and elevation of the riders in realtime and it is quite fascinating. I'm not getting paid to say this, so you can take my word for it.

Boivin was caught with 15k to go, and the teams began jockeying for the front of race because the last 5k of the race was a fast, technical finish with 5, 90 degree turns and if there was a crash, you'd be stuck far behind. Bahrain Merida moved to the front with 7.5k to go, followed by Willier. The camera panned back to Wout Poels of Team Sky, as he had some mechanicals and was trying to catch the peloton.

Tony Martin and Jose Goncalves(Katusha Alpecin) both took over the pace making with 4k to go. Tosh Van Der Sande(Lotto Soudal) made a small attack with 2k to go and with the tight turns it was imperative that QuickStep and Bora had to chase down Sande, otherwise it would be an easy win for him. Zdenek Stybar(QuickStep) led out the train for Viviani, but Viviani was far back, almost in the 10th place. With less than a Km to go, the EF Drapac team took over the pacemaking, Vivani still stuck behind in 25th place.

Jakub Mareckzo(SouthEast Pro cycling) and Sam Bennet began charging, but Vivani smartly took Mareckzo's wheel and then sprinted the last few meters hard, to take the 28th win for QuickStep this season.

So, the stage standing were as follows:

Overall Standings:

It was good to see Rohan Dennis in the Maglia Rosa.

Tomorrow is a long day, 229k, almost Spring Classics territory before the teams leave Israel and fly to Italy! See y'all tomorrow!


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