Bologna - Fucecchio
Giro d'Italia - 12 May 2019
Giro d'Italia – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 20:20 on 12 May 2019. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Here's Pasca; Ackermann celebrating that deserved victory with his Bora team-mates, who really took that finish by the scruff of its neck.
Here's the top 10 today with the Big Five sprinters sharing out the first five places.
Well, well - that puts to bed the debate about Ackermann's inclusion over Sam Bennett: there was only one way he was going to convince the critics of the merit of his place - and he's just done it.
Superb stuff from the big German, who pipped Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani for a maiden Grand Tour win, with Gaviria and Demare completing the top five.
VICTORY FOR PASCAL ACKERMANN!
Lotto Soudal have taken control but Gaviria and Viviani are still there...
Under the flamme rouge and there's been a crash!
Puncture for Manuel Belletti so he won't be contesting the sprint. The Androni rider is livid...
Paval Sivakov of Ineos has placed himself between two Dimension Data riders on the front - and here come Groupama and Bora! Viviani is also there, too, with the Wolfpack.
Dimension Data have a couple of riders on the front now even though their sprinter, Giacomo Nizzolo, was distanced earlier with a mechanical.
It's still Bora in control as the pack negotiates a roundabout. Lotto and Groupama are there as well, as are Ineos and Sunweb.
It's getting nervous and messy now as the teams battle for positions. Demare has moved up with his Groupama-FDJ pilots, QuickStep are there, as are Lotto and UAE - but so too are the teams of the GC riders, so it's a crowded place.
Ciccone is caught, quickly followed by the other three. Game on for the sprint - and here come Deceuninck-QuickStep...
Another chain issue for Christian Knees of Team Ineos, who needs to change his bike.
Bora-Hansgrohe have six riders - including that man Ackermann - on the front of the pack driving the pace. The German national champion is riding his first road stage of his first Grand Tour; his selection over the in-form Sam Bennett caused quite a stir; can he justify the faith in him and kick things off with a win? The break still has 10 seconds.
The pack is breathing down the neck of the break but they're in no mood to give up just yet. The peloton is now back as one, give or take, after that earlier split.
It's a really fast pace and everything has got a little tense out there. Our four leaders have 12" over the main pack with a second group a further 25 seconds back. Andrey Zeits, of Astana, needs a new bike after a mechanical.
We just passed the town of Mastromarco, which has a connection with the Nibali brothers.
We're onto a little uncategorised hill before the final run-in to the line. Bora set the tempo for their German champion Ackermann and they have Mitchelton-Scott just behind, with their man Simon Yates, in the ciclamino jersey he will relinquish in half an hour, keeping out of trouble.
There's definitely a gruppetto of around 40 riders who are doing their best to reduce the arrears. Meanwhile, our four leaders have 20 seconds to play with. Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria and Pascal Ackermann - whose Bora team now drive the pace - are all well placed.
There's a slight split in the pack on the descent after pressure from Sunweb. I can't see Elia Viviani so he may be one of the sprinters to have lost touch on that climb - but it's likely to come back together again.
It's Bora, Bahrain and Sunweb pushing things on the descent. It will be interesting to see which sprinters were distanced on that climb or if they're all going to be in the mix for the win today.
It's Giulio Ciccone who takes the maximum 3pts for this four-cat climb ahead of Bidard and Owsain. So the Italian is on to 21pts in the KOM standings and is looking good for that competition.
CRASH: Movistar duo Hector Carretero and Jasha Sutterlin have touched wheels and gone down hard in the middle of the pack. For the German it's a bit of a face-plant and he's now sitting on the road with his helmet off gathering his thoughts...
Two more clicks on this long but gradual big-ring climb. It's still Ciccone setting the tempo as he looks to consolidate his lead in the maglia azzura standings.
QuickStep, Bora and Sunweb have flocked near the front now as the gap comes down to 45 seconds. It looks like the Viviani vs Gaviria sprint finish is ON.
The lead is down to 55 seconds now for the four leaders, who will stay out for this climb, but will certainly be swept up before the finish today. UAE are still doing the pacing in the pack and have their man Gaviria right in the mix - so the pace and gradient are not too dear.
The four leaders are onto the Cat.4 climb to San Baronto. They have 1'05" to play with and Fernando Gaviria is right there on the front of the pack. The Colombian sprinter knows he will have to stay in touch over these climbs if he wants to contest the victory today.
Jan Bakelants has managed to ride clear of the pack on the descent. The Belgian from Team Sunweb catches up with Sean Bennett from the break, but the two are caught near the foot of the next climb.
It's the Bahrain Merida team of Vincenzo Nibali who are driving the pace of the pack on this descent. The rain and wind has eased up and the gap is down to 1'12".
It's Ciccone who puts in the decisive dig and he takes the 9pts that ensures that he'll keep the blue jersey today. Bidard is second over the top, then Owsain and then Frapporti. They're the only riders left out ahead because Cima and Maestri have been caught by the pack as the big name riders sprint towards the summit ahead of the descent. The gap is down to 1'35£.
Ominous for Pascal Ackermann: his lead-out man Rudiger Selig has been distanced from the pack.
The pack is catching some of the initial escapees. Ciccone's Trek team-mate Will Clarke is the latest to be swallowed up. Now Owsian puts in a dig.
Giulio Ciccone is the first to make a move - and that's quite early, well over one kilometre from the summit. Bidard reels him in and then they knpock it off to allow Owsian back.
It's the Sunweb and Movistar teams of Dumoulin and Landa who are setting tempo on the front, although Davide Formolo of Bora has just edged his way up and into the mix.
Bennett is trying to ride back to the three leaders with Frapporti. Meanwhile, Thomas De Gendt needs a front wheel change after picking up a flat. Big surprise not to see the breakaway king from Belgium in the move today, but perhaps he's keeping his powder dry for more favourable stages for an ambush.
Ciccone is riding with Bidard, Bennett and Owsian until EF Education First's Bennett drops back leaving a trio out ahead. The wind has really got up and it's started to rain again.
It's Giulio Ciccone who sets the tempo which splits the break in two. Back with the pack, Christian Knees of Team Ineos has been dropped with a mechanical issue - it looks like his chain is stuck in the small ring.
The breakaway has hit the first categorised climb of the Giro with a gap of 2'14" over the pack. This is the Cat.3 ascent of Montalbano (5.8km at 6.8% and a maximum gradient of 13%).
So, I got thing wrong: the reason why there has been no action from the sprinters for these TV sprints is because today's stage is a category C stage which means there are points up for grabs only for the first five riders. So the cyclamen jersey points were all off the table by the time the peloton passed through.
A reminder of our eight breakaway riders: Francois Bidard (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Lukasz Owsian (CCC Team), Sean Bennett (EF Education First), Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Giulio Ciccone and William Clarke (Trek-Segafredo).
Back on the front of the race and Italians Cima and Maestri zip off early and it's Cima from Nippo-Vini Fantini who takes it ahead of Bardiani's Maestri.
The pace is really high now with reports of some sidewinds ahead. It's got nervous and it's all bunched together ahead of the next intermediate sprint in Empoli. The gap is 2'45" for the eight-man break.
CRASH: A rider form Israel Cycling Academy has gone down on the gritty verge on the side of the road. It's Guillaume Boivin the Canadian. He looks to be in a bit of pain but he's got back on his bike despite a gash on his left knee and a torn jersey. It's going to be a tough hour and a half for Boivin here on in.
The pack is all strung out as they bring the break to within three minutes. There were in fact no more points up for grabs at the intermediate sprint and so it wasn't contested behind - but that will be different for the next one.
Marco Frapporti kicks clear near the summit to take the intermediate sprint ahead of Damiano Cima and Mirco Maestri. Frapporti was the most combative rider last year as he amassed more breakaway kilometres than anyone else. Those points were for two competitions: the points classification (for which there is the maglia ciclamino) and the intermediate sprint classification, which has no jersey but a cash prize and a place on the final podium in Verona. Frapporti won the latter last year - and he's on the right track again this year, too.
Ciccone leads the break as they come within one kilometre of the summit and this intermediate sprint at Montespertoli. 3'10" the gap.
With the road heading up now towards the intermediate sprint, the teams of the big sprinters have sent men on the front to help place their fast men in a good position. Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott also have their entire teams riding in formation. Behind them are Bahrain Merida and Astana.
The pace is far quicker than expected today with the riders zipping along faster than the quickest average expected speed. The gap is back to 3'30" for the leaders with the short climb to the first intermediate sprint coming right up.
Tom Dumoulin is the latest rider to drop back. The big Dutchman gives his DS his rain jacket and they chew the fat a little. Dumoulin was surprisingly slow yesterday in the TT: fifth place and 28 seconds off the pace. He also only set the 18th best time on the flat segment, which may have been a reflection on his fears about that final steep ramp.
There have been a few splits in the peloton after the feed zone but the pace isn't high and it should come back together again. Vincenzo Nibali is one of those distanced for Bahrain Merida, while another Italian, Elia Viviani, is currently spraying some grease on his chain back with his QuickStep team car.
The peloton has gone through the feedzone with the gap just under three minutes. The rain gear continues to come off and there continues to be some nervous, tense beef between the teams doing the chasing - Bora and UAE the latest to do some grade-A Italian gesticulating, in this case courtesy of Cesere Benedetti, who's just torn shreds from Tom Bohli. Given that the Swiss is riding his maiden Giro, that's a bit much from the veteran of four Giri.
We've entered the second half of this stage and the final 100 clicks. The break still has three minutes so it's looking good for Giulio Ciccone and those KOM points but you'd expect them to be reeled in easily before the finish.
Some hightlights from yesterday...
It's blue sky with the odd puffy clouds now - the calm before the metaphorical storm that will come in the form of those four climbs (two of which are categorised) in the final third of today's stage. The gap is 3'05" for the eight leaders, so no change there. Lotto Soudal, UAE Team Emirates, Jumbo-Visma, Bora Hansgrophe and Deceuninck-QuickStep share out the chasing duties on the front of the pack.
Reporting from the road, it's our very own Matt Stephens...
Before those two climbs I mentioned there's the small matter of the two intermediate TV sprints, which come atop the little climb of Montespertoli with 75km remaining and then in Empoli with 58km to go. These two sprints will provide a little taster for us ahead of today's expected bunch sprint finale - and they should be contested given the points available for the maglia ciclamino competition.
That picture was from the previous climb when it was much wetter. Things have dried out now and many of the rain capes have come off. Three minutes the gap now for the break, who'll have their work cut out keeping a decent-enough lead ahead of the climbs coming up in the final third.
There's some words between Andrey Zeits of Astana and a rider from Jumbo-Visma, who the former feels should be doing more work on the front to reduce the gap, given their man Primoz Roglic is in pink. It's all a bit unnecessary because, the question of respecting the maglia rosa aside, there's really no huge threat from this break and Jumbo-Visma are obliged to do nothing, especially not vis-a-vis Astana. The gap is now 3'05" for the leaders so it's coming down, in any case.
The rain appears to have stopped as the riders continue this long descent into Tuscany. The gap is 3'45" with that man Jelle Vanendert still on the front of the peloton leading the chase on this eight-man break.
We should add that Simon Yates is in the maglia ciclamino today. He's second in the points standings but Primoz Roglic is, of course, in pink. Meanwhile, it's Miguel Angel Lopez in white - and he'll be favourite to wear that all the way to Verona. His nearest challenger is Tao Geoghegan Hart of Team Ineos, who is seven seconds down on the Colombian from Astana after a strong opening time trial yesterday.
With a four-minute gap, the break goes over the summit of this uncategorised climb of Montepiano and are now, rather gingerly, embarking on the descent. The road surface looks like it's quite new but it's very wet and it goes through trees and so it could well be rather slippery. The last thing anyone wants to do in the first road stage of the race is push things too hard and take a tumble.
Meanwhile, in the Eurosport studio today Simon Gerrans steps in alongside Bradley Wiggins and Brian Smith alongside our new presenter Orla Chennaoui, who's doing a superb job so far. If you haven't given the show a go, I'd recommend it. The live coverage is also followed each day by a special panel discussion show called The Breakaway.
All this rain makes me think of England. Talking of which, how about a brief distraction from today's Giro stage? If you thought it was impossible to come off your bike on a cattle grid then here's our Average Man, Tom Bennett, to show you otherwise...
Scenes from the start today...
It's the bearded figure of Jelle Vanendert on the front of the peloton, setting tempo for his man Caleb Ewan who, if he gets over those climbs, should be one of the favourites to win a second stage on the Giro. Amazingly, this is the first Grand Tour since the Giro two years ago, so he'll be looking to step into Andre Greipel's shoes and open up his Lotto Soudal account. The team also has Thomas De Gendt for the breaks - albeit not today - and Victor Campenaerts for the time trials.
Let's look back at yesterday again and it's fair to say that not every one was happy. Some big losers after the first 8km of this race: Bob Jungels conceded 46 seconds, Davide Formolo 50 seconds, Mikel Landa 1:07 and Ilnur Zakarin 1:20. These guys were the worst of the top 10 contenders.
The average speed so far today is 41.5km/h which isn't bad considering the weather and the currently uphill grind. The gap is still around four minutes for our eight leaders. It's thoroughly miserable out there.
There's a rider from UAE Team Emirates on the front of the pack to help lead the chase for their man Gaviria. Behind there are bodies from the team of pink jersey Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team as well as Viviani's Deceuninck-QuickStep, Ewan's Lotto Soudal and Ackermann's Bora-Hansgrohe. The gap is 4'03" for our eight leaders.
Meanwhile, in the Eurosport studio Bradley Wiggins is waxing lyrical about Simon Yates...
If the battle for pink is all about the Big Five favourites (Roglic, Yates, Nibali, Lopez and Dumoulin) then the sprint showdowns should also feature five fast protagonists in Elia Viviani, Fernando Gaviria, Caleb Ewan, Pascal Ackermann and Arnaud Demare. There's a whole host of second tier Italian sprinters who'll look to push the others all the way - the likes of Giacomo Nizzolo, Davide Cimolai and Sacha Modolo - but it would be very unlikely to see one of them feature heavily given the class of the others.
The road is already heading up on the long uncategorised climb of Montepiano. It's an uphill slog of 20km through the Apennines but the gradients are always pretty gentle. The gap is back above the four-minute mark.
"Savio's boys" being the riders in Gianni Savio's Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic wildcard team. It's a team packed full of talent with the likes of Fausto Masnada and Mattia Cattaneo worth keeping an eye on for the mountains, Marco Frapporti, Matteo Montaguti and Andrea Vendrame for the breaks, and Francesco Gavazzi and Manuel Belletti for the sprints. Today it's Frapporti's chance to shine.
It's worth adding that, as best placed rider in this break, Ciccone is now riding in the virtual pink jersey. The Italian was 1'28" down on Roglic this morning but the gap for the escapees is currently 3'55".
The gap has grown to four minutes for this eight-man break. It's interesting to see the blue jersey Ciccone in there - he's clearly going for the KOM points in those two categorised climbs in the final third, and he has another Trek rider with him in Clarke.
There's an eight-man break with around one minute on the pack. They are: Francois Bidard (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Marco Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Lukasz Owsian (CCC Team), Sean Bennett (EF Education First), Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Giulio Ciccone and William Clarke (Trek-Segafredo).
After a delay owing to the pouring rain, the riders have finally passed through the official start. Stage 2 is under way!
The sad news from yesterday was the Japanese rider Hiroki Nishimura (Nippo-Vini Fantini) finished well out of the 30% cut-off time and was eliminated as a result. The 24-year-old was making his Grand Tour debut but finished 4'36" down on Roglic, some 43 seconds beyond the time limit.
The big test today will be the Cat.3 ascent of Montalbano which pitches up to 13% half way through. It's 5.8km with an average gradient of 6.8%.
A reminder of Primoz Roglic's ride into pink yesterday - although he had to wait the best part of three hours before it was confirmed by Simon Yates's late ITT.
And this is what the GC favourites are racing for...
If Roglic keeps the maglia rosa all the way to Verona then he'll emulate the Italian Gianni Bugno, the last man to lead the Giro from start to finish. Asked whether he will defend the jersey today, he said he was unsure this morning: "When we see how the race unfolds and what the weather does, we'll decide."
Meanwhile, in Bologna, the peloton is edging its way through the neutral zone. It's wet in the capical of Emilia-Romagna this morning so rain capes are the order of the day.
Ciccone completed the climb in a time of 6'03" - three seconds faster than the stage winner, Roglic.
Meanwhile, Giulio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo is sporting the first blue jersey of the race after completing yesterday's climb to San Luca in the fastest time. The Italian youngster soft-pedalled over the opening flat 6km before really giving it some welly on the ascent - and his tactic paid off.
So, it's a first pink jersey for this chap, who has already won all three stage races he's entered this year. Roglic has never finished on the podium of a Grand Tour, though, so it will be interesting to see if he can sustain this form into the challenging final week.
Here was the top 10 yesterday with all of the so-called Big Five favourites - Primoz Roglic, Simon Yates, Vincenzo Nibali, Miguel Angel Lopez and Tom Dumoulin - making up the top five. You may not have predicted the order, mind. Dumoulin conceding 28 seconds was certainly unexpected, while there were some super efforts from the likes of Majka and Geoghegan Hart.
Yesterday, Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic held off Britain’s Simon Yates to take the first maglia rosa of the 102nd Giro d’Italia with a barnstorming performance in the opening 8km time trial in Bologna. The Jumbo-Visma pre-race favourite was the only rider to break the 13-minute barrier on the tough course, which concluded on the steep climb to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca. Read all about it here...
It's far from your average straight sprint stage, what with two categorised climbs and a couple of other peaks all crammed in the second half. But a flat finish may ensure that we'll see the fast men come to the fore - just don't expect all of them to still be in the peloton...
Ciao ragazzi! Welcome to live coverage of stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia - an undulating 205km schlep from Bologna to Fucecchio.