Stage two of the Giro d’Italia is in the bag and Team Sky’s Elia Viviani is a very happy man. His win made up for Sky’s disappointment of the previous day, but here’s who else can be pleased or concerned about their day.
Rarely is someone who finishes seventh on a stage so heralded, but Australian sprinter Michael Matthews did just enough to poach the pink leader’s jersey from his teammate Simon Gerrans.
Some had Matthews down as one to watch for the stage win in Genoa, with the final stretch being slightly uphill, but the 24-year-old in the young rider classification jersey couldn’t quite snatch it.
But for ‘Bling’, as he is affectionately known, the pink jersey will likely be more sweet than the stage win and, most importantly, he ensured the maglia rosa remains with Orica-GreenEdge for another day.
Matthews got a taste of life in pink last year in almost identical circumstances. Orica won the team time trial in Belfast and got Svein Tuft in pink before Matthews trundled over the line eighth on stage two to take control.
Last year he held on for six stages, but with the challenging route this year he may struggle to keep himself up in the standings as the week goes on.
From losers to winners in the space of a day – it’s a fickle world. Elia Viviani’s win in Genoa was just what the doctor ordered after a disappointing opening team time trial.
Richie Porte will still be lying awake at night in his fancy caravan trying to think of ways to get back the 20 seconds he lost to Alberto Contador, but at least the Sky boys have something to celebrate.
It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for Viviani – his first at Sky. An early win in Dubai was followed by a podium at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Then a crash at Scheldeprijs set the Italina back a bit and he passed up the chance of stage wins in Turkey to tackle the hills of Romandie instead.
It was back to winning ways for Viviani in Genoa, though, giving Team Sky something to smile about.
The best thing the Italian Pro Continental squad have done in this Giro is introduce a new jersey.
Out goes the horrible grey kit of the early season – reminiscent of the one Manchester United wore for 45 minutes against Southampton in 1996 until they realised they couldn’t see each other – and in comes a nice white get-up.
The day started well for the squad, sending Albanian rider Eugert Zhupa up the road in the breakaway for a bit of exposure for the sponsors, as well as welcome boost for Albanian cycling.
They didn’t just settle for that, however, as Alessandro Petacchi – the fourth oldest man in the world – beat out riders nearly half his age to place fifth on the stage.
He’s not won a stage at the Giro since 2011, but Petacchi proved there’s no substitute for experience.
Poor old Heinrich. The Australian national champion must have been pretty confident of his chances on stage two but the poor fella ended up battered and bruised as he crossed the line 11 minutes down.
In the first of his two crashes Haussler was joined on the tarmac by the majority of his teammates and he looked in some discomfort sprawled by the central reservation.
Chances of victory over, the Australian hopped gingerly back on his bike, only to be brought crashing down again about five kilometres later.
Unfortunately for Haussler, wearing the green and gold bands as Aussie champion made him instantly recogniseable as lay on the ground, so there was nowhere to hide.
Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Pozzovivo must have to wonder what’s going to go wrong next. Not only did his team put in a pretty shocking time trial on Saturday, seeing the Italian lose nearly a minute, he was then caught behind a crash and lost another 69 seconds.
Former Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal was also stuck behind the tumble, but managed to make it back into the bunch for the finish, but Pozzo was nowhere to be seen until he led a bunch of domestiques over the line.
If his Giro wasn’t effectively over after day one, it almost certainly is after day two.
The bloke on the fixie
We’ve seen some acts of stupidity from fans at the Grand Tours, but trying to join a speeding peloton on a fixed-gear bike is up there as one of the stupidest.
Trek Factory Racing’s Eugenio Alafaci alerted the world to the incident, which caused dozens of riders to crash in the last 10km.
If you’re going to take a bike to watch a bike race, don’t try and enter the field of play. It’ll only end in tears and they’ll most likely be yours when you’re lynched by angry bike riders.