Start location: Teramo
Finish location: San Salvo
Start time: 12:20 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:12 CEST
Abruzzo has hosted the Giro’s Grande Partenza before in 2001, when Rik Verbrugghe won the prologue and Ellis Rastelli a rolling stage culminating in a small group sprint, but it remains a region less well-known than other areas of Italy to the peloton and tourists alike. Though geographically a part of central Italy, culturally it has more in common with the south having formed part of the Sicilian kingdoms, and it shared the economic difficulties of the nation’s southern regions during the twentieth century.
By bidding to host the Giro d’Italia, they’re aiming to boost the region’s tourist appeal and show off everything it has to offer, from a Roman history, during which time today’s starting location Teramo was an important town, to the landscape of beautiful nature reserves and national parks that comprise half of the whole region.Wolves and brown bears are among the exotic animals found in these natural parks, but they reside in the mountainous Apennines west of Teramo, where the mighty Gran Sasso casts a long shadow. For now, the peloton will avoid those fearsome threats and head back eastwards towards the comfort of the Adriatic coast again (though only temporarily —the Gran Sasso will be climbed later this week on stage seven, once the race has looped back upwards again from the south).
Stage two profile sourced on the Giro d'Italia website
Though once again sticking to the placidly flat coastal roads that characterised the opening stage (albeit in the opposite direction, with the riders heading southwards rather than northwards), the terrain is not entirely without tests. That’s because it occasionally veers inland to take in a few small category four hills; the first, Silvi Passe, occurs 85km into the 201km stage; then Ripa Teatina at 129km, via a deeper diversion from the coast to the town of Chieti, that also features another uncategorised hill.
Neither climb is hard enough even for pure sprinters to struggle up, while the return to the coastline and the long, flat final 70 kilometres run-in to the finish at the San Salvo Marina seafront discount the chance of any punchy race-winning attacks being made on them. The only action they will witness will be which rider from the day’s break will get to wear the blue mountains classification jersey.
If anything is going to prevent the inevitable bunch sprint finish, it is the wind. Springtime in central Italy isn’t exactly known for its blustery conditions, so such a scenario is unlikely, but it wouldn’t take too strong a crosswind to prompt echelons given the proximity to the coast of the entire final third of the stage.
The fastest in the peloton will once again be looking to make up as much time as they can on the flat coastal roads before the peloton makes its way to the mountains.
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is one of the top sprinters in the race and demonstrated his fine form in the time trial in the opening stage, taking 12th place against the time trial specialists. While there are other stages more suited to the Dane, he's one of the riders in this year's Giro who will be able to power it to the line. He's also supported by a strong team who will be able to deliver him to the final 200 metre mark.
Kaden Groves (Alpecin–Deceuninck) and Michael Matthews (Jayco Alula) are also some of the strongest sprinters heading into this year's Giro. Matthews looked promising during the TT, coming within the top 20. Groves, however, was near the bottom end of the rankings, sitting in 141st place. He hasn't finished high in the rankings lately when put individually against the clock over a longer distance, and a sprint stage is where he usually thrives.
This year's Giro d'Italia is Kaden Groves first time racing the Italian Grand Tour (Image by Getty Images)
Movistar have two strong sprinters in their line-up with Fernando Gaviria and Max Kanter. They've both secured several top-10 finishes so far this year when it has come down to a bunch sprint, so they could both be in the running for a podium place in this stage.
If Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) can position himself well, he'll be a rider itching to get on the podium on this stage. The British rider is an experienced sprinter so a stage like this is his bread and butter, but without a lead out train, it might be more difficult for him to go against the other riders who have that strong support.
Other riders who may be in contention are Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Pascal Ackerman (UAE Team Emirates), and Alberto Dainese (Team DSM).
After a strong performance in the time trial, putting himself in contention for the GC, we are placing our bets on Mads Pedersen to take this stage. With this stage being made for the sprinters and Pedersen being one of the top sprinters in the bunch, we think he'll put up a good fight for victory.