Giro d'Italia 2021: Stage Two Preview - The Sprinters' First Dance

Rouleur previews stage two of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, following the opening day time-trial which was won in fine fashion by Filippo Ganna.

Filippo Ganna produced a dominant performance in the opening time trial of the Giro d'Italia, winning by 10 seconds ahead of Edoardo Affini. He remains undefeated in time trials at the Giro d'Italia and has won four in a row. The Giro is just getting underway though, and with twenty stages still remaining, here's a look ahead to stage two.

Route

Giro d’Italia Stage Two profile 

Stage two of the Giro d’Italia gets underway in the hamlet of Stupinigi, around 10km south of Turin where stage one was settled. The route for the day is flat throughout except for some short hills placed in the centre of the stage. Here, we find the Montechiaro d’Asti, the first categorised climb of the 2021 Giro. The first rider to cross the summit here will wear the maglia azzurra of best climber the following day, assuming they also finish the stage of course. This competition will be contested among the day's breakaway, so there will be fierce fighting, particularly among the wildcard ProTeams, for a place in the day's break.

The second half of the stage will be defined by the reeling in of the breakaway and the eventual mass sprint. Two intermediate sprints take place at kilometres 140 and 155, 39.5km and 24.5km from the finish-line respectively. Here, we could see the likes of Peter Sagan and Giacomo Nizzolo attempt to get their maglia ciclomino chase underway, though this depends on numbers in the breakaway. The finish takes place in Novara, where the fastest sprinter will claim victory.

Contenders

Giacomo NizzoloGiacomo Nizzolo is searching for his first stage win at the Giro. (Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The favourite for the stage is arguably Caleb Ewan. The Lotto-Soudal rider is chasing his fourth Giro d’Italia stage win and his first at the race since 2019. Ewan stated at the beginning of the year that he is aiming to win a stage at each of the three grand tours this year and this is his first opportunity to tick off one of the three. He’s helped by Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge; the latter showed good form in yesterday's time-trial by finishing 18th.

Leading Alpecin-Fenix is Tim Merlier who is making his grand tour debut. The Belgian has gained a reputation as one of the faster riders in the peloton, though without grand tour experience it’s hard to estimate how he’ll perform against the likes of Ewan. However, he has already won the Bredene Koksijde Classic and Le Samyn this year. With a team including Dries De Bondt, Alexander Krieger and Oscar Riesbeek around him, he has a genuine chance.

Another of the main favourites is the returning Dylan Groenewegen. The Dutchman hasn’t raced since that horrendous crash at the Tour de Pologne last year. His return to racing hasn’t been without controversy, but Groenewegen is one of the quickest sprinters in the world when at his best. However, we are unsure of his form. Will it be too soon for him in the second day following his comeback?

Elsewhere, Giacomo Nizzolo is a man who is, remarkably, still hunting his first Grand Tour stage win although he has already earned nine runner-up spots at the Giro d’Italia throughout his career. Now, starting his eighth Giro , Nizzolo will be desperate to end that hoodoo. The Italian can climb fairly well considering he's a pure sprinter, therefore he may also look to the more difficult stages with more hills where some of his competition will be dropped.

Another rider that may look to do that is Peter Sagan. Sagan cannot claim to being the quickest man in the peloton nowadays, but remains the hot favourite for the maglia ciclamino after losing that jersey to Arnaud Démare last year. He will be eager to get a solid result here, though he isn’t the favourite for victory.

Elia Viviani suffered a torrid first season with Cofidis last year after gaining a reputation as one of the fastest riders in the world with Deceuninck-Quick-Step. Following heart surgery, however, Viviani has looked somewhat revitalised thus far in 2021. He was competitive at the UAE Tour and won Cholet-Pays de la Loire. He's not the main favourite, but he could spring a surprise. 

Fernando Gaviria, Matteo Moschetti and Max Kanter will also look to challenge although they are outsiders.

Prediction

Caleb Ewan is the fastest man on paper and is our favourite to win stage two of the Giro d'Italia. He knows how to win at the Giro d’Italia and is comfortable with his leadout having spent numerous years with them. With no major climbs for him to worry about, Ewan will be ready to compete for victory in Novara.

Cover image: Zac Williams/SWpix