Three out of five correctly predicted yesterday's TT result, and with it the first maglia rosa. Today's stage, with its lumps and bumps and punchy finish, looks a whole lot harder to call. There are more stage hunters than GC teams on the roster so expect an attack-laden finale on the punchy final climb. A lot of riders will fancy it, but there can be only one.
Aleksandr Vlasov - Astana
A nasty little kicker to end this stage amidst the spectacular Grecian ruins of Agrigento. The Russian has been sensational this season. I think this is the one for him, if his captain Fuglsang permits it.
Michael Matthews - Team Sunweb
Stage 2 looks like a beautiful opportunity for a breakaway to make a go of it, with that climb right from the drop of the flag to launch them. I can definitely see guys like Simon Pellaud, Geoffrey Bouchard, Joey Rosskopf, and Giovanni Visconti trying their luck, especially with KOM points already available. But the bumpy profile and anxious riders in the pack will likely reel the break in shortly before the climb up to Agrigento. At an average of 5.3% for 3.7km with a max of 9% mid climb, it’s likely too much for most sprinters. But it’s the sort of thing I can see an in-form Michael Matthews taking. He’ll likely be smarting from his oh-so close performance at Worlds. Taking 7th on a course that was so hilly proves he’s ready and hungry.
Peter Sagan - Bora Hansgrohe
A first look at this finish found me thinking it was just a bit too punchy for Peter. But then I scrolled through the runners and riders and couldn't spot anyone it favours better. The way he started the time trial suggests he might have brought his climbing legs to the Giro, and heaven knows he's hungry.
Valerio Conti - UAE Emirates
If ever there was an Italian overdue a win in his home race it's Conti. Just entering the prime years of his career, he's riding for a team with their tails up and on the hunt for stages. I expect him to be ready and wound up at the bottom of that final climb. The win probably won't put him in pink, but it might.
The Cycling Mole says...
The race started with the inevitable Ganna win, not even the wind could stop him. Stage 2 is an interesting looking stage, one that will interest quite a few riders. The stage ends with a little lump, around 4km at 5%, but that shouldn’t be too hard for many fast men.
I’ll start with the awful pick of Vlasov, I’m struggling to understand how Ian thinks he can win this one, it is nowhere near hard enough. The same goes for Conti, who could win with a late attack, but there will be plenty of riders looking to chase down late moves. Olivia and Miles are bang on the money with the picks of Matthews and Sagan. The big Aussie is in brilliant form, he’ll be there at the end for the sprint, as should Sagan. The great man struggled through the Tour, but he’ll now see the benefit in his legs. This finish is well within his capabilities, but I also think riders like Démare and Ballerini will have a shout.
When the organisers went cap in hand to Sagan asking him to ride the Giro you can be sure they told him about all the stages that were designed with him in mind. After going more than a year without a win this is a day for Peter Sagan.