Andre Greipel in pink after stage two sprint – Giro d’Italia

Giro d’Italia 2017

Stage 2

Andre Greipel roared to victory on stage two of the Giro d’Italia, moving into the maglia rosa for the first time in his illustrious career.

The Lotto–Soudal veteran took advantage of a mechanical problem suffered by rival Caleb Ewan in the home straight to triumph in the 221km stage from Olbia to Tortoli in Sardinia.

Ten bonus seconds for the win put Greipel, the German national champion, ahead of overnight leader Lukas Postlberger of Austria, who now trails Greipel by four seconds in the general classification.

Italy’s Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) finished second and Belgian Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) came third after Australian Ewan (Orica-Scott) was left to rue his misfortune in the closing 100 metres of a frantic finale.

Race favourites including Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Geraint Thomas finished safely in the main group, with Welshman Thomas even sprinting to eighth place. But there was less luck for Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin who conceded 20 seconds to his GC rivals after a late split in the pack.

With over 4,000 vertical metres of climbing, the race’s second stage was animated by an early attack as six riders – Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier Triestina), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom – Rusvelo) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF) – broke clear after just six kilometres.

Greipel overcame a puncture before winning the sprint to the line.

But a mild headwind and constant rolling roads meant the average pace was even slower than Friday’s opening stage – with Greipel eventually coming home after more than six hours in the saddle on a day of little drama.

The break built up a maximum lead of over six minutes but, after Owsian, Andreetta and Koshevoy faded first, the remaining escapees were reeled in over the summit of the second of two categorised climbs, with 45km still left on the horizon.

A two-man counter attack by Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) and Davide Martinelli (Quick-Step Floors) came to nothing as the Bahrain-Merida team of defending champion Nibali set a fast tempo on the long descent ahead of the finish.

The undulating terrain meant a cluster of big-name sprinters – including Ireland’s Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) – were tailed off well before the finale.

Ewan looked well placed to go one better than his second place on Friday but the Australian clashed shoulders with Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) in the home straight, resulting in his left foot unclipping from the pedals. An apparent chain slip then made any chance of a comeback impossible.

With Ewan slamming his handlebars in frustration, Greipel opened up his final sprint, saw off the challenge from Gaviria, and then held both Ferrari and Stuyven at bay to take his fourth win of the season.

Victory for Greipel means the 34-year-old German has now won a stage in every Grand Tour he has ridden since the 2008 Giro d’Italia. It also gifted Greipel the first leader’s jersey of his career.

Giro d’Italia general classification: 1 Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto)11:18:39″ 2 Lukas Poestlberger (Austria / BORA) +4″ 3 Caleb Ewan (Australia / Orica) +8″ Roberto Ferrari (Italy / UAE Team Emirates) 5 Jasper Stuyven (Belgium / Trek) +10″ 6 Pavel Brutt (Russia / Gazprom) +12″ 7 Kristian Sbaragli (Italy / Dimension Data) +14″ Ryan Gibbons (South Africa / Dimension Data) Fernando Gaviria (Colombia / Quick-Step) 10 Enrico Battaglin (Italy / LottoNL)

Giro d’Italia Stage 2 points classification: 1 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea / Dimension Data) 52 2 Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 50 3 Lukas Poestlberger (Austria / BORA) 50 4 Caleb Ewan (Australia / Orica) 37 5 Eugert Zhupa (Albania / Wilier Triestina) 28 6 Kristian Sbaragli (Italy / Dimension Data) 24 7 Jasper Stuyven (Belgium / Trek) 22 8 Roberto Ferrari (Italy / UAE Team Emirates)18 9 Pavel Brutt (Russia / Gazprom) 18 10 Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy / Trek) 18

Giro d’Italia team classification: 1 Orica (Australia) 33:56:39″ 2 BORA (Germany) ST 3 UAE Team Emirates (United Arab Emirates) 4 Trek (United States) 5 Quick-Step (Belgium) 6 Dimension Data (South Africa) 7 Team Sky (Britain) 8 Sunweb (Germany) Bahrain (Bahrain) 10 Movistar (Spain)

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