Giro d'Italia 2017: Lukas Postlberger snatches unlikely pink jersey on stage one - Road Cycling UK

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Giro d’Italia 2017: Lukas Postlberger snatches unlikely pink jersey on stage one

Austrian foils the sprinters after inadvertently getting gap on peloton in final run-in

Lukas Postlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) snatched an unlikely victory on stage one of the 2017 Giro d’Italia, to pull on the first leader’s jersey of the 100th Corsa Rosa.

The Austrian hit the front as part of his team’s lead-out train as the strung-out peloton came to the slight uphill rise leading to the flamme rouge but ended up with a gap on the bunch.

And getting into an aero tuck, his gap simply went up and up as the sprinters delayed their own kicks until it was too late.

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) sprinted to second place, but Postlberger had already had time to sit up, point to his team’s name on the front of the jersey and ease over the line with his arms outstretched.

Lukas Postlberger foiled the sprinters after inadvertently getting a gap in the run-in (pic – RCS Sport)

In picture-perfect conditions on Sardinia, a six-man break wasted little time getting themselves up the road, with Eritrean champion Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) and Albanian champion Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) among them.

Cesare Benedetti (Bora-hansgrohe), Poland’s Marcin Bialoblocki (CCC Sprandi Polowice), Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) completed the sextet, who soon found themselves seven minutes clear.

Benedetti set about grabbing the first mountain points of this year’s Giro on the Multeddu climb, before beating Teklehaimanot on the Trinita d’Agultu to guarantee he would pull on the first climber’s jersey of this year’s race.

The acceleration on the second climb was enough to drop Maestri, but the other five remained up the road and the gap was down to 2’32” when Zhupa beat Teklehaimanot at the first intermediate sprint.

Lotto-Soudal and QuickStep Floors lent a hand to the breakaway, but it was Svein Tuft (Orica-Scott) who was a near permanent fixture on the front, working for Caleb Ewan.

The pace was down, however, with nobody willing to over-exert themselves on the first day of the three-week race.

Teklehaimanot finally got his reward for his day’s efforts at the final intermediate sprint, where he snatched maximum points on the line, but with 32km to go the gap was down to 1’40”.

At both intermediate sprints, Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) jumped out of the peloton to claim some points, but the chief contenders for the stage were happy to keep their powder dry.

Benedetti was first across the final categorised climb, with the gap still above 35 seconds, but the peloton had everything under control as the sprint trains started to form heading into the final ten kilometres.

The breakaway was finally caught inside the final five kilometres, and a hectic finale ensued as, just outside the 3km to go banner, riders were held up at the back of the bunch by a small crash.

Postlberger is the first Austrian to pull on the pink jersey (pic – RCS Sport)

The incident caused the peloton to become stretched out on the technical run-in to the final sprint, with small gaps all over the road.

It was Postlberger’s gap at the front which proved most telling, however, as the finish line drew closer and closer and it suddenly became apparent he was not going to be caught.

The Austrian – on his Giro debut – celebrated his unlikely victory, and will roll out for stage two in the maglia rosa as a result.

Most of the GC contenders came home safely, meanwhile – though Steven Kruijswijk lost 13 seconds after finding himself behind one of the splits that formed with the crash.

Giro d’Italia 2017: stage one – result

1) Lukas Postlberger (AUT) – Bora-hansgrohe – 5.13.35hrs
2) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Orica-Scott – ST
3) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
4) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek-Segafredo
5) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates
6) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – Dimension Data
7) Jasper Stuyven (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
8) Ryan Gibbons (RSA) – Dimension Data
9) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Bora-hansgrohe
10) Phil Bauhaus (GER) – Team Sunweb

General classification

1) Lukas Postlberger (AUT) – Bora-hansgrohe – 5.13.25hrs
2) Caleb Ewan (AUS) – Orica-Scott +4″
3) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal +6″
4) Pavel Brutt (RUS) – Gazprom-RusVelo +8″
5) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek-Segafredo +10″
6) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates
7) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – Dimension Data
8) Jasper Stuyven (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
9) Ryan Gibbons (RSA) – Dimension Data
10) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Bora-hansgrohe

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