Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) timed his sprint to perfection to win ahead of his two main rivals Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in the uphill finish at Chiusdino.
The final 50km flew by with multiple attacks from some of the biggest names in the race including Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), before a group of four riders got away including defending champion, Simon Yates (BikeExchange), João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious). Almeida was last man standing as he was caught by the Alaphilippe-led bunch in the final few hundred metres of the stage, with his team-mate able to hold his sprint to the line and claim victory.
Van Aert keeps his overall lead and takes four bonus seconds in the sprint finish.
How it happened
Stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico saw an undulating course start in Camaiore before taking on 226km with an uphill finish to Chiusdino.
The day’s main break was made up of the mountains jersey wearer Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), John Archibald (Eolo-Kometa), Simone Velasco (Gazprom-RusVelo), and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
The gap to the break went out to about four minutes before it was taken down and kept at 2-30 for much of the day by the Jumbo-Visma led peloton.
With 50km to go, the pace started to rocket with the riders starting to clim the main hills of the day. Jumbo-Visma continued to look after the overall leader, Wout van Aert at the front of the peloton along with several other teams that tried to keep their main men at the head of proceedings.
With 44km to go the peloton had pulled the gap right down to the breakaway up the road to 14 seconds.
Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie) then set off flying down a descent catching the break with 35km to go before hitting the first categorised climb, with Albanese having a mechanical at the start of the climb.
Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) started upping the pace with his team-mate, Egan Bernal, attacking over the top followed by Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), with Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) and Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) trying to counter across the gap.
That counter-attack was joined by Marc Soler (Movistar), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe). Vermeersch then fell away and replaced by Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), and Andrey Zeits (BikeExchange).
Attacks continued to pepper the peloton with Mathieu van der Poel and Van Aert both relatively isolated at the front of the bunch with 31km to go.
Simon Yates (BikeExchange) bridged to the first group and straight across to the front riders with João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), dragging the rest of the new break up to the front.
It was UAE Team Emirates who helped Jumbo-Visma to drag the riders back before Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) went up the road joined by Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Yates and Almeida who quickly pulled out 30 seconds.
Behind, with 20km to go, the peloton was being led by Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) with Van Aert on his wheel and no other team-mates near their overall leader. It took another 5km before Foss and Van Aert were joined by another team-mate, Timo Roosen.
With 6km to go UAE Team Emirates moved back to the front to try and work for their main man, Tadej Pogačar with Rafał Majka, Davide Formolo and Jan Polanc working for the Tour de France champion as they hit the final climb.
Yates sat up from the break with 1.8km to go to return to the peloton as Sivakov tried a move, quickly followed by a counter by Almeida. Both Sivakov and Landa were able to just about follow as they headed into the final kilometre.
Yates then was dropped straight out of the back of the peloton as Almeida kicked again and dropped his fellow breakaway partners.
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) tried to go on his trademark last kilometre attack behind but it only acted as the perfect lead-out for his rivals.
Almeida managed to hold on up until about 200 metres to go when his team-mate, Alaphilippe, flew past him along with the rest of the remaining peloton.
The world champion was followed in the wheels by Van Aert who was struggling to make gains on him, before Van der Poel made a late surge on the right-hand side of the road. The Dutch champion ran out of road and had to settle for second place as Alaphilippe celebrated across the line.
Yates, who was in the lead group with 1.8km to go, finished in 63rd place 1-22 down on the winner.
Stage three sees another undulating stage with a similar finish that will likely see the same riders at the front at stage two.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2021, stage two: Camaiore – Chiusdino (226km)
1. Julian Alaphilipp (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 5-01-32
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
4. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
5. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
6. Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
7. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Ag2r-Citroën Team
9. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 8-37-35
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 4 seconds
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 8s
4. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 11s
5. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 13s
6. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r-Citroën Team, at 14s
7. Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeEchange
8. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
10. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, all at same time