The first online stage of the Giro 2021 did not bring any surprises on Sunday. A bunch sprint was expected, and a bunch sprint occurred indeed after 180 kilometers of racing towards Novara. Tim Merlier took the day’s victory while the Groupama-FDJ got through this second stage without problem.

In the aftermath of the opening time trial in Torino, the Giro riders were set to travel the Piedmont roads this Sunday, from Stupinigi to Novara, through 179 kilometers almost entirely flat. Only one 4th category-climb was listed at the halfway point, which left little doubt regarding the outcome of today’s stage. Three brave men, from three invited teams, still got into the fight right from the start, and they immediately got away. Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Sidermec), Umberto Marengo (Bardiani-CSF) and Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) then enjoyed a maximum lead of five minutes at the front of the race, though they never had the chance to dream about making it to the end. Albanese was even caught faster than expected after a mechanical problem while his two breakaway companions were reeled in before the last 20 kilometres. As for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, there was nothing special to report today. “Even though we don’t have a sprinter, and we were deeply convinced that the breakaway would not make it, we couldn’t afford to take it too easy on the stage,” Philippe Mauduit recalled. “There are always potential dangers on the road. In the end, we got through the stage safely and without problem, but the guys still had to be serious. They were also able to get into the race rhythm, but to tell the truth, they were already in the swing of things since yesterday”.

“It’s also good to have stages like this”, Matteo Badilatti

“It was a pretty easy and everything went well, said Matteo Badilatti. In such days, we just try to enjoy the easy ride and to save energy in order to use it in the best way possible afterwards. Of course, you also have more time to speak with others guys. You’re still focused, but it’s more relaxed and you have time to exchange words with friends. It’s also good to have stages like this. I was actually surprise by how many people were standing on the side of the road. It had become quite unusual in the last times”. As expected, this second stage of the Giro ended with a bunch, quite hectic sprint and Tim Merlier took the win. However, all the sprinters might not fight for the win in Canale on Monday after a 190-kilometer stage that will include four climbs in the last 75 kilometers. “The profile is a bit more interesting,” added Philippe, “but only the race circumstances will decide whether there will be moves or not. In any case, things might obviously be a bit more lively tomorrow”.

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