Mathieu van der Poel aiming to defend Giro d’Italia lead in opening time trial

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Mathieu van der Poel - Mathieu van der Poel aiming to defend Giro d'Italia lead in opening time trial

Mathieu van der Poel – Mathieu van der Poel aiming to defend Giro d’Italia lead in opening time trial

11:15 AM

What’s on today’s menu?

Featuring just 150 metres of vertical elevation over the short 9.2km course has just one intermediate time check after 7.9km, before the road ramps up. There is a cobbled road, though the stones are relatively smooth and the weather forecast does not show any signs of rain so these, in theory, should not offer riders too many issues.

TTTT

TT

Anyway, here’s what the roadbook says about the stage.

A short individual time trial, on wide and well-paved urban roads, weaves it’s way from Pest to Buda. Starting from the Heroes’ Square, the route heads towards the Danube, which separates the two souls of the city.

Taking in several bends, the stage course reaches the riverside, passes the Neo-Gothic Parliament and crosses the Danube to roll along the opposite bank. The route takes two U-turns, the first upward and the second downward, approaching and leaving the river bank on the Parliament’s side. Moving away from the river, the route takes in the closing climb.

stage two mapstage two map

stage two map

The final 1,500m run entirely uphill. Past the intermediate split, the route takes to a climb leading to the castle, hitting the maximum gradient (14%) on flagstone.

The route then continues at around 4%, taking in a few hairpins, all the way to the finish square in Buda.

FinaleFinale

Finale

10:55 AM

Clocking on times

Setting off in reverse order of the general classification, Harm Vanhoucke ​(Lotto-Soudal) gets the time trial under way at 1pm (BST). Each rider will start one minute after the previous man before almost three hours after Vanhoucke started his race, overall leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) will roll down the starting ramp.

10:10 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Friday’s stage

As mentioned below, the opening stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia was extremely back-ended, with all of the action and intrigue coming in the final few kilometres where Mathieu van der Poel charged into the first maglia rosa of his career, denying Biniam Girmay of Eritrea an opportunity to make a slice of cycling history by becoming the first black African to win a grand tour stage and wear the fabled pink jersey. But despite the somewhat slow start, it was a barnstorming finale.

10:10 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage two at the Giro d’Italia, the 9.2-kilometre time trial around Budapest, Hungary.

Following yesterday’s slow-burner of a stage – pretty much nothing happened for the opening 190km before all hell broke loose on the uphill finale – today will see the first of two time trials in this year’s Giro. Before we have a look at the course, though, let’s have a quick recap and look at the early standings in the top classifications, in other words the competitions where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), the Dutchman that won Friday’s stage with a trademark display of powerful riding to finish ahead of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for the first time on his career debut at the Giro.

Van der Poel also leads the points classification, but cannot wear two jerseys and so the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, will be worn, I think, by Bilbao who is actually third in the competition but the second-placed rider leads a competition outright – see below – and so will honour that. By the way, I am awaiting confirmation of this from race organisers RCS.

Because there was just one classified climb in stage one with just three riders earning points on the uphill finale, Van der Poel also leads the mountains classification, again with Girmay and Bilbao second and third respectively. Therefore, no rider will be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, during today’s time trial.

As outright leader in the youth classification, Girmay will wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey. Incidentally, Girmay became the first Eritrean to finish in the top three of a stage at the Giro on Friday. Compatriots Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (2020) and Natnael Tesfatsion (2021) managed top 10 finishes.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) was voted as the most aggressive rider following his late attack on the final climb and so the German will wear a red bib number during his time trial this afternoon.