Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) dominated the sprint on Stage 2 to mark his Giro d’Italia debut with an early win.
The Belgian soared through the finish ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) after a chaotic finale.
Breakaway duo Filippo Tagliani (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Umberto Marengo (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) were swallowed up in the closing kilometres as it went to a bunch sprint.
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There had initially been three riders in the escape, but after winning the day's only categorised climb Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo Kometa) dropped back into the peloton leaving his two colleagues to duke it out for the most aggressive rider.
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The catch was made within 20 kilometres of the finish, but there were no counter-attacks to disturb the sprint trains' preparations.
The final kilometre was a disorderly one, with most of the sprinters losing their leadout men early.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) actually collided with his teammate, Juan Sebastian Molano, after trying to sneak by on the barriers.
Gaviria, who has won five stages here in the past, only managed 24th place after just managing to save himself from a more serious crash. Molano seemed to have been totally unaware of Gaviria's presence behind him.
'Almighty mess!' – Riders race to wrong line in awkward sprint
Also disappointed will be Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal who did not get close to troubling the other sprinters for the win. He placed tenth in the end, but simply disappeared in the finale. Peter Sagan muscled his way to fifth.
"In the end it was enough. I am really happy. It pays off today," said Merlier.
On returning to racing after a long lay-off, Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) said he was largely pleased with a fourth-placed finish.
"I am feeling after a really long time it's OK," he said.
"To take fourth place after nine months. You need to be happy – but I am a winner, and you always want more. The legs are really perfect, I am looking forward to the next sprints."
Nizzolo's second place secured him a tenth runner-up position in stages of the Giro. He is the rider with the most second places in Giro history without garnering a stage win, nicknamed 'the Bridesmaid of Milan'.
‘Faster, faster, faster!’ – Merlier on ‘great’ victory on Stage 2
Stage 2 results
- 1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 4:21:09
- 2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
- 3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
- 4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
- 5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
- 6. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
- 7. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
- 8. Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
- 9. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation
- 10. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
- 1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 4:29:53
- 2. Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma +13
- 3. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma +16
- 4. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep +20
- 5. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep
- 6. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep +21
- 7. Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
- 8. Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos +22
- 9. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-up Nation +25
- 10. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers +26
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