Giro d'Italia stage 2: Tadej Pogačar takes first summit finish and maglia rosa

Slovenian drops all his GC rivals including Geraint Thomas and Ben O'Connor

Clock15:08, Sunday 5th May 2024
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia

© Getty Images

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia

History repeated itself as Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) recovered from his relatively disappointing third place on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia with a stunning ride to victory and the maglia rosa atop Oropa, mirroring Marco Pantani’s famous success on the same mountain 25 years ago.

Like Pantani in 1999, Pogačar suffered a badly-timed mechanical at the foot of the Oropa and was forced to claw his way back into position, but even a puncture wasn’t enough to halt the unstoppable Slovenian’s charge to victory and the race lead.

The two-time Tour de France champion attacked with 4.5km to go as the riders reached the steepest section of the final climb, with stage 1 winner Jhonatan Narváez dropped immediately, losing 1:30 and the leader’s jersey.

Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) led in a heavily reduced group of favourites, claiming second and third place and six and four bonus seconds respectively on the famous ascent. They came in 27 seconds down, along with Florian Lipowitz (Bora-Hansgrohe).

“That was one of my dreams after winning a Tour stage, I was just missing a Giro also [to complete the Grand Tour set of stage victories]. So that was always in my mind, to have all three stage wins is not something many riders have and it’s a big thing in cycling so I'm super happy,” Pogačar said at the finish.

"I just wanted a stage win today and some gap, test the legs a little bit. The dream was to take the pink jersey. Now I can relax a little bit for the next few days with the team and stay safe in the sprints.”

Pogačar goes into the race’s third stage having already established a healthy 45 second lead over Thomas and Martínez in second and third respectively, with Cian Uijtdebroeks (Visma-Lease a Bike) up to fourth and taking the white jersey, while Ben O'Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) lost time.

Read more: Puncture and crash no problem as Tadej Pogačar redefines Giro d'Italia GC at Oropa

How the action unfolded

Following yesterday’s short, explosive stage there was no rest for the wicked, with another punchy parcours including the first category 1 climb of this Giro d’Italia and the earliest summit finish since the 1989 edition.

Stage 2 – a 161km run from San Francesco al Campo to Santuario di Oropa – condensed three categorised climbs into the final 50km, the last being a summit finish atop the category 1 Oropa.

While far from the hardest climb at this year’s race, although it does kick up to 11% in the final 1km, Oropa is certainly steeped in history. The site of Pantani’s win in the maglia rosa in 1999, the potential for Pogačar – denied the pink jersey yesterday by Jhonatan Narváez – to take glory on his way to emulating the Pirate’s Giro-Tour double meant it was a nervy start for the peloton in the Piedmont region.

And it was frantic from the drop: UAE Team Emirates embedded themselves at the front, making their intentions known early on as they dragged back all early moves. With the peloton flying along at an average of 61km on the flat roads out of the official start, local boy Filippo Ganna and Alexey Lutsenko were two of the prominent names brought back early on before a five-man, all-Italian group managed to escape.

Ineos Grenadiers’ pink jersey defence squad took to the front to shut down attempts to join the break, letting the quintet of cicalamino wearer Filippo Fiorelli, Martin Marcellusi (both VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizane), Davide Bais (Polti-Kometa), Cristian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan), and Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) get clear.

They quickly established a lead of almost four minutes, with most of them not threats to the maglia rosa, although Piccolo was the best placed at just 1:07 back on GC.

The race settled down after that hectic start, but with all the KoM points, intermediate sprints, and climbing packed into the stage’s second half, along with 1,800m of the total 2,300m of altitude gain, it was very much a case of calm before the storm.

A stage of two halves

Fiorelli made the most of his technical lead in the points classification (despite being third at the start of the day) by wearing a full ciclamino skinsuit, with its real holder Narváez in pink and second-placed Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Wanty) in the mountains jersey. But the Italian moved himself into the virtual points lead, rolling over the line at the intermediate sprint uncontested by his breakaway companions and compatriots.

In a mini-battle of the sprinters ahead of tomorrow’s flat stage, Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took the remaining points at the intermediate sprint ahead of Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike), with Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) boxed out and Caleb Ewan (Jayco-Alula) snatching the final remaining point.

Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) and Kooij hit the deck after a low-speed crash, touching wheels in an awkward section populated with road furniture, but both managed to get back on their bikes. The Dutchman appeared worse off, needing his knee and right elbow bandaged by medical staff as the peloton geared up for the climbs on twisting, more complicated roads.

In the breakaway Bais went long to try to claim the Intergiro points on offer, but Fiorelli stormed back to overhaul him and cement his lead in the ciclamino classification. With some riders in the peloton struggling on the uncategorised climb, particularly Fabio Jakobsen (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Ewan outsprinted Danny van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Groves on the hike uphill to take the remaining points.

Piccolo attacked his breakaway companions with the Intergiro points settled, making an unlikely bid for glory after he claimed the leader’s maillot rojo from a break on stage 2 of last year’s Vuelta a España. He established a gap of around 38 seconds shortly before the category 3 Oasi Zegna climb with 44km left to ride, and did indeed move into the virtual lead.

With the terrain pitching up, Fiorelli – job done for the day – was dropped by the chasing group. Ineos took to the front on the quick descent before the 5km Nelva climb, the second category 3 of the day, by which point Piccolo had extended his lead to 1:30 over the chasing trio.

Attacks continued behind; Scaroni shed Marcellusi and Bais but the VFB rider clawed his way back on the descent. Those two were caught by the Ineos train as the peloton approached the day’s toughest climb. Behind him Geraint Thomas and Ganna took the remaining bonus seconds at the day’s second intermediate sprint.

The final ascent

Pitching up at 6.2% but 14% at its steepest section, the 11.8km long category 1 Oropa was always going to be the decisive climb of the day.

And there was drama before the riders even reached the foot of the mountain. Echoing Pantani 25 years ago, Pogačar punctured and crashed shortly before the intermediate sprint. The UAE leader quickly changed his bike but had his work cut out to make up almost half a minute of lost time and marshal himself for the assault on the Oropa.

Once he’d slotted himself back into the bunch UAE Team Emirates swung into action at the front, and as Mikkel Bjerg’s pace splintered the peloton apart they finally brought an end to Piccolo’s nearly 40km solo ride.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and yesterday’s second-place finisher Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) were among the first to be distanced, and Pogačar made his inevitable move with 4.5km to go.

Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and Thomas were the best-placed of the favourites: a gap quickly opened up to the Slovenian but they continued to tick on at their own pace, with maglia rosa Narváez dropped almost immediately.

O’Connor cracked inside the final 2km and despite the now-reformed bunch’s best efforts, there was simply no answer to Pogačar’s incredible display as he charged into the pink jersey and the history books once more.

Keep up to date with the latest tech news on the GCN website. For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

Race Results

1

si flag

POGACAR Tadej

UAE Team Emirates

3H 54' 20"

2

co flag

MARTINEZ Daniel

BORA-hansgrohe

+ 27"

3

gb flag

THOMAS Geraint

INEOS Grenadiers

"

4

it flag

FORTUNATO Lorenzo

Astana Qazaqstan Team

"

5

de flag

LIPOWITZ Florian

BORA-hansgrohe

"

6

au flag

STORER Michael

Tudor Pro Cycling Team

+ 30"

7

be flag

UIJTDEBROEKS Cian

Team Visma | Lease a Bike

"

8

co flag

RUBIO Einer

Movistar Team

"

9

es flag

LOPEZ Juan Pedro

Lidl-Trek

+ 35"

10

cz flag

HIRT Jan

Soudal Quick-Step

+ 37"

Provided by FirstCycling

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Tour de France

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12 Aug - 18 Aug

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28 Apr - 5 May

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