Team Sky’s Elia Viviani sprinted to victory on the first road stage of the 2015 Giro d’Italia as the team bounced back from a below-par team time trial in style.
Italian Viviani, who switched from Cannondale in the winter, earned his first ever Giro stage win by outsprinting Tour de Yorkshire stage winner Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
Viviani, despite the team being built for Richie Porte’s GC bid, was brought forward in the final kilometres by Bernie Eisel and Salvatore Puccio and latched onto Hofland’s wheel.
Greipel opened up the sprint, but first Hofland and then Viviani burst around him on the outside – the victory putting Viviani in the red jersey.
The pink jersey also changed hands, meanwhile, with seventh-placed Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) taking it from team-mate Simon Gerrans.
With just one climb on the route, a five-man break was allowed to build up a big advantage in the early part of the race before Orica-GreenEDGE hit the front and worked to bring them back.
The chase was not without incident though – Heinrich Haussler, Matteo Pelucchi and Sylvain Chavanel all hitting the deck for IAM Cycling and Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep) having to abandon with a broken collarbone.
The chaos and nerves prompted Tinkoff-Saxo – who had already driven the pace on the climb – to put in a dig on the finishing circuit, reeling in the break and denting Domenico Pozzovivo’s GC hopes as he was caught out behind the peloton.
Having already lost time in the team time trial, the diminutive Italian lost more than a minute again as his hopes of a podium place are already diminishing.
Back at the front, it was only inside the final few kilometres that the GC teams relented – the easing of the pace allowing the sprinters to come forward.
Viviani found the right wheel, and kicked with perfect timing – pointing skywards as he opened his Grand Tour account to continue what is shaping to be a great season for Team Sky.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage two – result
1) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky – 4.13.18hrs
2) Moreno Hofland (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo – ST
3) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
4) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Alpecin
5) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Southeast Pro Cycling
6) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing
7) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
8) Davide Appollonio (ITA) – Androni-Giocattoli
9) Daniele Colli (ITA) – Nipp-Vini Fantini
10) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana
1) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 4.32.44hrs
2) Simon Gerrans (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – ST
3) Simon Clarke (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
4) Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +7”
6) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – ST
7) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Tinkoff-Saxo
8) Manuele Boaro (ITA) – Tinkoff-Saxo
9) Ivan Rovny (RUS) – Tinkoff-Saxo
10) Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) – Astana +13”