The National Champion came close to a sixth stage victory at his home Grand Tour.
Rain, wet roads, and cold temperatures accompanied the riders as they left behind Bologna, the city that in the Middle Ages knew many turbulent times due to its central position in the Peninsula, which made it the object of ambition for the likes of Cesare Borgia and Louis Xll.
These conditions and the two classified climbs packed inside the final 50 kilometers made stage 2 of the Corsa Rosa a tricky one, especially as the sprinters’ teams had to push a strong pace on the ascents in order to reel in the eight-man breakaway, but not hard enough so that their leaders would safely make it to the finish in Fucecchio, where a bunch gallop was expected.
Neo-pro Mikkel Honoré was prominent at the front of the field from the very outset of the stage, controlling the escapees’ gap and putting in a sterling work on both the flat and hills. A Grand Tour debutant, he 22-year-old Mikkel devoted all his energies to the team’s goal of fighting for victory at the end of this edition’s first road stage, bringing back the leaders inside ten kilometers to go, before things became nervous, impacting the finale.
The sprint was hectic and more chaotic than usual, mainly because of a crash which split the peloton under the flamme rouge arch. Having made the cut, Elia Viviani was well-placed in the reduced group and opened his sprint with 120 meters to go, hitting a maximum speed of 71.2km/h and taking second behind Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe), for his 30th top 3 finish in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey.
“I was in a good position, but Ackermann anticipated the sprint in the tailwind, while I waited too much before kicking out. I had a very fast 50 meters, but that wasn’t enough. On the plus side, the feeling is good and our team is motivated, which gives me confidence ahead of the next sprint stages”, Elia said in Fucecchio, a finish town at the Giro d’Italia for the first time in the race’s history.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images