Mathieu van der Poel storms to victory on stage one of the Giro d'Italia

Alpecin-Fenix rider claims pink jersey after his win, Biniam Girmay in second

Mathieu van der Poel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel powered to victory on the final climb of the day on stage one of the Giro d'Italia. On his first appearance at the Italian Grand Tour, the Alpecin-Fenix rider claimed the pink jersey at the first time of asking.

Heading into the final 500m, the Dutchman appeared out of it, but came from behind to power to victory ahead of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) in a chaotic finale to the stage.

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) claimed third, while Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) touched Girmay's wheel and crashed out in the final 50 metres.

Van der Poel claimed the first pink jersey, leading Girmay by four seconds. Bilbao, at six seconds, is the first proper general classification contender, while the top-10 already includes Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The messy final sprint followed a largely dull first day, as a pair of Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli riders made up the stage's breakaway, but the final more than made up for that.

How it happened

The first stage of the first Grand Tour of the season, and the first time a three-week-long race has ever been to Hungary, the first time a WorldTour race has been to the central European country in fact.

After a huge reception in Budapest, the peloton rolled out for their first test of this year’s race, a 195km road stage to decide the first maglia rosa wearer. No time trial until the second day, so the first race leader would be decided by a sprint rather than against the clock.

Giro d'Italia 2022 route

(Image credit: Giro d'Italia)

Things seemed to continue exactly as usual at the Giro d’Italia, with two riders from Gianni Savio’s Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli team clipping off the front as soon as the peloton completed the neutralised zone: Mattia Bais and Filippo Tagliani. 

The pair were immediately disappointed at the fact they were joined by no-one else, as the bunch contented themselves with a breakaway of just two; yes, it was one of those long Giro days. The fact the pair were both Italian made it all the more apposite.

There was very little in the way of dramatic action in the first few hours of the day, as Bais and Tagliani built a lead of up to 11 minutes over the peloton, but still they never looked like doing something special and making it to the finish alone, not when there was so much interest in taking the pink jersey with a win on the first stage.

Teams with sprint/puncheur options like EF Education-EasyPost, Team DSM and Alpecin-Fenix took the job of controlling things on the front, although it was clear there was no rush to bring the lone pair back too quickly.

The first intermediate sprint was won by Tagliani ahead of Bais, while back in the peloton a few of the contenders for the points jersey made their first blow. Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) all took points at the first opportunity.

With 50km to go, the time gap was only just over a minute, so it was obviously going to be a day for the peloton, but the pace was still relaxed enough for all the teams to be in colour order in the bunch. With such little stress for the first two-thirds of the day, it was possible that there would be a hectic finale.

At the second intermediate sprint, the Drone Hopper pair switched roles, with Bais taking three bonus seconds ahead of Tagliani’s two. The final second was claimed by Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal).

It wasn’t until 13.7km to go that the lone pair were caught, with the whole bunch grouping together heading into the last few kilometres of the day. Teams at the front included Lotto Soudal, EF, Groupama-FDJ, Eolo-Kometa, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and UAE Team Emirates, as the whole road was taken up.

A crash with just over 6km to go was caused by a sudden injection of pace in the peloton. Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) came off worse for wear.

Lotto Soudal and Alpecin-Fenix controlled the pace on the early part of the final climb, but still much of the bunch were able to stay together.

The first attack of the day came from Lawrence Naesen (AG2R Citroën), who gained seven seconds on the peloton. He was alone as he went through the 3km to go banner, while Ineos Grenadiers led the chase behind.

A crash with about 2.5km to go saw Davide Ballerini (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) hit the deck. The next rider to attack was Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), with 2km to go, as the bunch started to splinter behind. The German had six seconds on the peloton, as they sought to catch him within the final 1km of the first stage.

The bunch caught him just within the flamme rouge. Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) was the next to go, with riders all over the road. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) still managed to hang onto the front of the race, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on his wheel, showing the mix of riders who had risen to the top on this climb.

It was a chaotic final 500m, with some of the sprinters thought to be out of it, but Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) came to the front just when it mattered, powering to victory ahead of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).

On his first Giro stage, the Dutchman was victorious, crossing the line in first and claiming the maglia rosa, after wearing the yellow jersey at last year’s Tour de France. He did not even manage to raise his arms in celebration post-finish

Ewan crashed within the final 50m, after touching Girmay’s rear wheel and hit the deck, but later was seen to get up and cross the line unaided.

Results

Giro d’Italia 2022, stage one: Budapest to Visegrád (195km)

Results

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-35-28
2. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermaché-Wanty-Gobert, in same time
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious
4. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-EasyPost
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE-Team Emirates, all in same time
9. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën, at 4s
10. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, in same time

General classification after stage one

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-35-18
2. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermaché-Wanty-Gobert, at 4s
3. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 6s
4. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-EasyPost, at 10s
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
6. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE-Team Emirates, all at same time
9. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën, at 14s
10. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at same time

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