Heartbreak for Caleb Ewan who seemed to unclip from his pedal as he began to launch his sprint
The German champion beat Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) into second and third respectively, while race leader Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) wasn’t able to finish high enough to defend his overall lead.
There was more disappointment for Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott), who, after missing out yesterday due to Pöstlberger’s late attack, lost all momentum as he began to launch his sprint when a collision with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) saw his foot come unclipped and take him out of sprint contention.
Until that point, both Greipel and Ewan’s leadout trains had been the most prominent in the final kilometres, with a drag race between the two looking set for the finish.
Greipel benefited from being dropped off right at the front of the bunch, while Ewan had to begin making his way around other riders to catch up with the German. As he moved to the right to to overtake a rider, he collided with Colombian Gaviria who was moving inwards.
It wasn’t enough to take either of the riders down, but it saw Ewan’s left foot unclip and he was unable to get back in to contention after that, finishing eighth.
Gaviria likewise was unable to make any gains on Greipel, and finished fourth after Ferrari and Stuyven unexpectedly passed him to claim podium spots.
There was no stopping Greipel though, who looked head and shoulders above the rest as he claimed his seventh career Giro d’Italia stage win and his first stint in the pink jersey.
How it unfolded
This was not a day to remember for most riders on the Giro d’Italia.
With a parcours that looked to offer something to those daring enough to make it a hard race so early on in the three weeks, featuring a big climb coming in the final 70km of the 221km route, there was anticipation of a potential breakaway making it to the finish.
However, only a small group of five, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data, Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier Triestina), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom – Rusvelo) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF) were able to get away from kilometre zero, and the peloton settled in for a relaxing ride across the Sardinian countryside.
That group took a maximum gap of over seven minutes on the bunch, but the five were more interested in the two offerings of King of the Mountains points along the route than a stage win. Teklehaimanot was able to take the maximum 15 on the category two climb of the day the propelled him into the blue jersey for stage three.
And by the time they’d reached that second KOM line, the peloton were right on them, and the final 50km saw Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida squad take control on the front and guide riders down to the finish in Tortoli.
The only GC contender to lose out on the day was Katusha-Alpecin’s Ilnur Zakarin, who punctured with 8km to go and had to rely on his team-mates to try and pull him back to a rampaging peloton that was gearing up for the bunch sprint at this point. The Russian lost 20 seconds on the stage.
After a slow day it was a fast finish, and Greipel walked away the victor of stage two. He’ll be eyeing a chance to double up on stage three on Sunday, when the peloton heads to contest a 148km flat stage to Cagliari.
Giro d’Italia 2017, stage two: Olbia to Tortolì (221km)
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal, in 6-05-18
2. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
5. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
9. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott
10. Valerio Conti (Ita), UAE Team Emirates, all same time
General classification after stage two
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal, in 11-18-39
2. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 4 secs
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott, at 8 secs
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 8 secs
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 10 secs
6. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo, at 12 secs
7. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data, at 14 secs
8. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
9. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
10. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo, all same time