Pascal Ackermann takes the pressure off
Bora-Hansgrohe’s strength in depth of sprinting talent could be considered a blessing and a curse, with their roster including Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann, meaning team selectors have a headache every time a race comes around.
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There was a lot of talk pre-race about Sam Bennett, who won three stages at last year’s Giro and has taken six victories so far in 2019, being omitted from the line-up in favour of the German champion. Bennett even went as far as to say it has made him consider his future with the team.
What better way, then, to quieten any critics or dampen any nerves and team politics by winning at the first opportunity.
Ackermann kicked out on his own in the finish, showing great strength to take his first ever Grand Tour stage win in what is also his first ever Grand Tour stage.
There’s not much to choose from between the sprinters
Much was made about the quality of sprinting talent that would be on offer at the 2019 Giro, and one name that probably wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as Elia Viviani, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan was Pascal Ackermann.
Viviani was probably the only one who looked like he had the legs to challenge Ackermann in the sprint today, but chose the wrong wheel, leaping across from Ewan to the German too late to change the outcome.
Caleb Ewan, who is riding his first Grand Tour for his new Lotto-Soudal team, was also handicapped by having to lead out the sprint.
Those factors aside, the sprint looked fairly even, and you would expect a number of sprinters to share the spoils over the coming three weeks. It would be a surprise if one sprinter dominated the flat stages in the race.
The first of many long days for Jumbo-Visma
A number of teams who have GC hopefuls shared the work at the front of the peloton today, but with Primož Roglič in the pink jersey Jumbo-Visma offered up a number of riders to pull the bunch along the 205km of flat road.
Unless one of his rivals should launch a big attack over the coming days, or the Slovenian’s form fall apart completely, the Dutch team could have a long couple of weeks on their hands.
Not only will Jumbo-Visma be expected to set the pace up the climbs in the opening week of racing, Roglič will have to perform the race leader responsibilities of daily press conferences and doping control.
All of this will take its toll in return for just a slender 19-second lead over Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Movistar’s strength severely dented after crash
Movistar team leader Mikel Landa got off to a disastrous Giro 2019 campaign on stage one, finishing his time trial 1-07 down on Roglič, and 30 seconds behind the other GC contenders.
Stage two wasn’t much better, as with 30km to race two of his key lieutenants Jasha Sütterlin and Héctor Carretero crashed, with Sütterlin looking like he landed face first, left dazed on the tarmac.
Whilst Landa wasn’t necessarily one of the favourites for the overall, these two setbacks are likely to cost the Spaniard any chance of challenging near the top of the overall classification.
Ciccone stakes claim to blue jersey ambitions
Guilio Ciccone took the king of the mountains jersey after being the quickest rider up the San Luca in the stage one time trial.
After finding himself in the day’s break on stage two, the 24-year-old Italian took the opportunity to consolidate his blue jersey, reaching the summit of both of the day’s climbs first and extending a 15 point lead in the competition.
Alongside Bauke Mollema’s GC ambitions, Trek-Segafredo now have another classification to aim for.