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CW Live: Jonathan Milan wins Giro d'Italia stage two; confusion surrounds KoM jersey; snow to force route change; Annemiek van Vleuten wins Vuelta Femenina; the cyclist with links to the Russian army

Updates from stage two of the Giro d’Italia, as well as the latest cycling news

Hello and welcome to today’s Cycling Weekly live blog, where I, Chris Marshall-Bell, will taking you through the second stage of the Giro d’Italia.

A predominantly flat affair, it’s largely expected the race’s fast men will contest a bunch sprint in the medieval town on San Selvo.

Key updates (BST)

11.20: stage two of the race is underway!
11:30: Tao in blue - eventually
11.40: five-man breakaway formed
11:50: Snow to force stage 13 change?
12:20: The Russian cyclist with army links
13:45 Vuelta Femenina begins Lagos de Covadonga climb
14:35: Annemiek van Vleuten survives an ambush to win Vuelta Femenina
16:00: Bunch sprint beckoning at the Giro
16:30: Jonathan Milan win stage two

Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Getty)
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There’s been a bit of confusion overnight with regards to the maglia azzurra, the blue jersey awarded to the rider with the most King of the Mountain points.

To his apparent amusement, UAE-Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty found himself on the podium after stage one, being presented with blue for apparently ascending the time trial’s climb faster than anyone else.

But it appears that was a mistake, with actual timings revealing that Ineos Grenadiers’ Tao Geoghegan Hart flew up the short ascent at the end of the 19.6km TT faster than anyone else. 

Tudor, who have replaced Tissot as the race’s official timing supplier this year, declared McNulty as climbing the ascent in 3-51, but a closer look at his ride data suggests that he was actually 31 seconds slower than that. Geoghegan Hart posted 4-04.

McNulty was perplexed with the award. “It’s funny,” he laughed. “I knew I had to pace well and go hard on the climb but I didn’t expect to be the fastest. It was quite surprising to me, honestly.”

At the start of stage two, Geoghegan Hart was wearing blue, an admission by the race organisers of the timing error.

Here's some Giro stories you may have missed over the past few days:

First up: recap how Remco Evenepoel stormed into the first maglia rosa of the race here.

Is it just Remco Evenepoel vs Primož Roglic? Here's eight other GC contenders to watch at the Giro d’Italia

Today looks like a stage for Mark Cavendish. How's he feeling ahead of it? Find out here.

Jai Hindley won the race last year for Bora-hansgrohe, but the German team know they've their work cut out to win again. Find out more here.

And, finally, a feel good story involving Charlie Quarterman - riding a Grand Tour is a dream he thought had ran away from him.

Curious as to who's racing. Check out the startlist here.

Snow to force route change on stage 13?

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For any dedicated snow lovers (this author is one), this past European winter has, on the whole, been arguably the worst this century, with a lack of snow and cold conditions rendering ski conditions pretty abysmal across most parts of the continent.

Yet in the past four weeks the seasons have altered (thanks, climate change) and snow hasn’t stopped falling in the high Alps, presenting problems for stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia.

The peloton are supposed to cross the Swiss side of the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard, but two weeks out from the expected passing the road is still snowed in with no sign of clearance any time soon. In fact, more snow is expected in the coming week. 

Such an eventually is not totally uncommon in the Giro, and organisers have reportedly began to work on a plan B. “If it is not possible to cycle over the top, the riders will enter Switzerland through a tunnel,” said the stage’s organiser, ex-rider Steve Morabito. “This was also the case in 2006, but our dream is still that the peloton will ride up between the snow walls”

Morabito explained to La Nouvelliste that the stage will not be cancelled, but instead be seven kilometres shorter and count 500m less of elevation.

If passed the Saint-Bernard will be this year’s Cima Coppi, the highest point of the race.

190km to go: It took just a few hundred metres for the day's breakaway to form, and already the peloton have sat up, gifting them a lead of 5.35. Among the escapees are three Italians: Stefano Gandin (Corretec-Sella Italia), Alessandro Verre (Arkéa-Samsic) and Mattia Bais (Eola-Komota). They are joined by the French duo Thomas Champion (Cofidis) and Paul Lapeira (AG2R-Citröen)

What's in store today?

Mostly flat terrain and then a probable bunch sprint in San Selvo. The likes of Australians Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla) will be in contention, as will Trek-Segafredo's Mads Pedersen and Astana-Qazaqstan's Mark Cavendish.

Interesting story from the RadioCycling podcast in the past 24 hours of how a Russian cyclist in the women's peloton is partly-funded by a sports organisation with deep links to the Russian military.

You can read more here.

170km to go: The breakaway's gap has been reduced to 3-50, and everyone seems to be having a jolly good time in the May sun. Not much happening at all. 

130km to go: The gap between the peloton and the five-man breakaway has been reduced to two minutes, with Trek-Segafredo and Alpecin-Deceuninck sitting on the front of the peloton to keep them in check.

La Vuelta Femenina: of course, it's not just the Giro taking place. Today also marks the seventh and final day of the Vuelta Femenina, with the peloton just 20km out from climbing Lagos de Covadonga.

We'll keep you abreast of developments.

As we were at the Giro, but at the Vuelta Femenina the peloton have just climbed onto the lower slopes of the Lagos de Covadonga. A reminder: Annemiek van Vleuten leads Demi Vollering by 1-11.

Ten kilometres from the line in the Vuelta Femenina... and Demi Vollering attacks! The SD Worx rider has to take back 71 seconds on Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar if she wants to win. The day's biggest drama is taking place in Spain.

5.5km to go at the Vuelta Femenina and the front group is Demi Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten and yesterday's winner Gaia Realini. Vollering needs to gain 1-11 on Van Vleuten.

3.5km remaining at the Vuelta Femenina and Vollering and Realini have 23 seconds on Van Vleuten. As it stands though the latter will still win the race.

Van Vleuten narrowly wins Vuelta Femenina from Demi Vollering

That was an absolutely thrilling conclusion to the Vuelta Femenina. Demi Vollering wins her second stage in the fog at the top of Lagos de Cavadonga... but it's Annemiek van Vleuten who wins the race overall, the world champion just holding onto red by just nine seconds.

Gaia Realini, the breakthrough star of this Vuelta, finishes second on the stage and confirms her star potential.  

Great excitement in the Vuelta Femenina, but at the Giro d'Italia we still have a race on mute. Alessandro Verre has been caught by the peloton, but the other four riders remain out front by around two minutes. Still 70km to go until the finish.

40km to go: The peloton are within 30 seconds of catching the breakaway.

25km to go: The peloton have been all together for around 10km now, and it's Trek-Segafredo won are on the front, working on behalf of Mads Pedersen who has made it clear he wants to win the race's points jersey.

7km to go: The finish in San Salvo is approaching and it's Alpecin-Deceuninck, working on behalf of Kaden Groves, who are currently at the front.

Crash with 4.8km to go!

It can always happen in the finale of a sprint, and Movistar's Max Kanter and DSM's Martijn Tusveld have collided in a narrow part of the road. It looks like Mark Cavendish has been caught by the fall.

Jonathan Milan wins stage two of the Giro d'Italia!

Jonathan Milan takes the biggest victory of his career, charging through the middle of the bunch sprint to nudge past Kaden Groves who had enjoyed a strong leadout from Alpecin-Deceuninck. The latter was even pipped to second place by David Dekker of Arkéa-Samsic.

It looks like Tao Geoghegan Hart lost 19 seconds today after being caught by the crash but we're still waiting for confirmation.

You can read the full race report from stage two of the Giro d'Italia here.

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