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Stage two of the Giro d'Italia finds things still in the Netherlands, with 210 kilometres to be covered from the start in Amsterdam to the finish in Utrecht. And on the way are the first two mountain rankings of the Giro!
Hello and welcome back to the Giro d'Italia, the Netherlands version. After yesterday's very short time trial, the riders will take to the road for 210 km today, and we expect the first mass sprint finish in Utrecht.
We seem to have our escape group of the day. A quartet of riders got away shortly after the start: Paul Voss (Milram), Rick Flens (Rabobank), Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago – CSF Inox), and Mauro Facci (Quick Step). At km 60 they have built up a lead of 5:08.
You may think this is your typical “flat as a pancake” Dutch stage, but you would be wrong! We actually have two ranked climbs today. They are, of course, both Category 3. The first comes at km. 88.7, and the second at km. 100.5
Our weather forecast today is a little friendlier than yesterday. It is supposed to be overcast all day, but dry. It is still much cooler than normal for this time of year, though, with the highs only predicted to be 13° Celsius.
All eyes today will be on HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel. The leading sprinter in the peloton this year has not been feeling well. Friday he came down with stomach problems. He got over ten hours sleep that night and felt better on Saturday, although he had a slight fever. A visit from his wife and two daughters helped him feel better, too. He felt well enough to finish 25 in the opening time trial, only 18 seconds down.
The German will be the top favourite today in the expected mass sprint. The winner gets 20 bonus seconds, and add those to the 18 seconds he is down on GC, and he could well be pulling on the maglia rosa later today. Of course, there are lots of variables, and other riders who will do their best to spoil his plans.
Plus, of course, you can read more about him here.
Let's take our first look at the rankings. In the GC, we have Bradley Wiggins (Sky) two seconds ahead of BMC teammates Brent Bookwalter and Cadel Evans.
Not surprisingly, the points competition also shows Wiggins ahead of Bookwalter and Evans.
Speedy as he was, Wiggins was unable to turn back time and take the young rider's classification. The honours there go to Richie Porte (Saxo Bank), who has four seconds over Jos Van Emden and six seconds over Tom Stamsnijder, both of Rabobank.
With the first climb rapidly approaching, Flens has attacked out of the lead group. He seems to want to take the mountain points and wear the mountain jersey here in his homeland. Meanwhile the gap has dropped to just over four minutes.
And speaking of that first climb of the Giro 2010, here are the details: The first climb, at 88.7km, is the Kaapse Bossen, all of 49 metres high. It has an average gradient of 1.4%, but does have one 10% section.
Pirazzi has joined Flens and they have 10 seconds over Voss and Facci.
The Azzuri d'Italia classification will look familiar, as will that for combativity: Wiggins ahead of Bookwalter and Evans.
The first mountain has been climbed, but we don't yet know who can claim the honours. The four leaders are back together again and have a lead of 5:42.
Both the teams classification and the super team classification show Sky first, BMC second and Saxo Bank third.
Pirazzi won the mountain ranking, taking three points, with Flens second with two points and Voss third with one point.
Who is leading the peloton but Team Sky?
Let's take a look at our four escapees. Paul Voss is 24 years old and in his second year with Team Milram. He made his Grand Tour debut last year in the Vuelta a Espana.
This year he surprised almost everyone by winning the opening time trial at the Volta a Catalunya. He held on to the leader's jersey for two stages.
It is warming up today, which is good news, and the riders are starting to shed their jackets.
Rick Flens is a 27-year-old Dutchman riding for Rabobank. He has had a good year so far, finishing seocnd in Kuurne-Brüssel-Kuurne. He has spent his entire pro career, since 2007, with the Dutch ProTour team.
Bradley Wiggins is looking very dapper in pink and black today.
Stefano Pirazzo, 23, is a first-year pro with Colnago – CSF Inox. He was 120th yesterday, 47 seconds down. But now he can claim that he won the first mountain points in this year's Giro.
Mauro Facci (Quick Step) is an Italian riding for the Belgian team. He will celebrate his 28th birthday on May 11. He turned pro with Fassa Bortolo in 2003, rode for Barlowolrd in 2006, and has been with Quick Step ever since.
Stephen Ferrand is on the scene for Cyclingnews, and this morning he spoke with Wiggins. "It was the team's first Grand Tour and so it was a special moment. We celebrated all together.
We'll try and keep it as long as possible. Today it won't be easy to keep the jersey. There are a lot of sprinters who are very close, people like Greipel, Farrar and Petacchi. “
Asked if he can win the Giro d'Italia, Wiggins said: "We'll see. You never know," he said with a smile.
am Sky may be leading the peloton, but BMC looks to be doing a team time trial right behind them.
Vervelo, on th other hand, seems to be at the back of the field en masse.
In all the years this race has been held, the vast majority of the wins have been by Italians. No surprise, is it? They have 65, wins, with the Belgium in second place with only seven wins. Then come France (6), Switzerland, Spain and Russia (3 each), Luxembourg with 2, and Ireland, US and Sweden with one each.
A crash, with at least one SAxo Bank rider going down. He is hobbling back to his bike and taking off. It is Anders Lund. He went down fairly closely in front of the long line of team autos, but thank goodness nothing happened.
Somewhere along the line they had the second climb and we missed it entirely. Voss took the 3 points, with two for Flens and one for Pirazzi. The three of them all now have four points. We gather that the winner will be named based on their finish in the stage today, but wouldn't want to swear to it.
It was a tough day for the birds of Amsterdam yesterday. A pigeon flew into the helmet of Fabian Wegmann (Milram) during the time trial. Both were uninjured.
The same can't be said for Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas. He hit a pigeon who had the mistake idea of crossing the road. Nibali was uninjured. The bird's exact fate is unknown, but the worst is feared.
The gap of the leading quartet is falling, down to 4 minutes now.
Farrand also spoke to Alessandro Petcchi today. He said,"It won't be an easy stage, it's flat and flat. We can go steady but it could rain and if it's windy it'll nervous. Even the overall contenders will want to stay near the front in the finale and so it's going to be chaotic."
The white jersey for best young rider belongs today to Richie Porte of Team Saxo Bank. He finished sixth yesterday, five seconds down. The
young Australian, who is making his Grand Tour debut, also won the time trial last week at the Tour de Romandie. “This is incredible”, he said.
Is the volcano going to have an effect on the Giro? It is spitting out ashes again, and some airports in Europe are closed. There is the possibility that it could all move over to Italy, perhaps closing the airports there and preventing the air transfer on Tuesday. But of coursewe hope that is merely all wild speculation.
We now hear that there is a meeting scheduled this evening to discuss the issue. What will they do if the flighs are cancelled?
The four leaders navigate one of the many traffic circles here in the Netherlands. They are working well together, all taking a turn with the lead work.
The most Giro d'Italia overall victories is five, with the record being shared by Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx. Merckx also holds the record for most days in the leader's jersey, 76.
BMC Racing Team had a very successful day yesterday, claiming second and third place in both the stage and the overall. Cadel Evans is a
well-known name, Brent Bookwalter less so. You can read more about them here.
Andre Geipel is right behnd Wiggins in the field.
Flens calls for his team car and picks up something to drink.
The four leaders pass one of the many fields of cows. There are many cows here -- just think of all that wonderful Gouda and Edam cheese, amongst others.
FAcci falls back to the team car now, as the leaders pass a lovely old windmill.
There are lots and lots of people standing along the road. It looks like a great mood.
Rabobank and HTC-Columbia move up to share the lead in the chasing peloton.
Was Wiggins happy to have won yesterday? Well, that's a silly question, now, isn't it? Of course he was! “To wear the pink jersey in the Giro is
special,” he said proudly.
Bad news for Cervelo: Thor Hushovd has broken his collarbone in a training crash. He will undergo surgery tomorrow. The details are here.
Sky leads the field, with HTC-Columbia right behnd them. The gap has increased to nearly six minutes now. And we also understand there is virtually no wind today.
The field rides over a lock on the river, just as a ship enters the lock.
A discussin between HTC-Columbia and Sky about picking up the speed. Michael Albasini takes off out of the group, it is too slow for him.
HTC-Columbia wants to make sure there is a mass sprint today, for their man Greipel. Wiggins doesn't want the break pulled back too soon. Hence the discussion.
The most stage victories in one Giro was 12 by Alfredo Binda in 1927. Eight of those wins were consecutive, also a record.
BMC has designed a fancy new time trial bike for Cadel Evans. Cyclingnews' James Huang took a look at it.
The only sprint of the day is at Houten, 52km from the finish. That's seven kilometres from now. Of course the breakaway will clean up the 6,4 and 2 seconds on offer.
Albasini was simply protesting, he is back in the field. Up front however, Facci seems to have fallen off. He is now 10 seconds back.
A variety of teams at the front of the field, including Astana. There is no serious chase at the moment.
A big crash at some traffic islands. Or did the road just get too narrow and they all had to stop?
Flens tried to break from his companiions, but the others followed. Ah the sprint ranking is there. Voss takes the points.
Several riders did go down a few minutes ago, including Danilo Hondo of Lampre. A handful of others dodged the whole thing by riding through the field -- a bit of 'cross riding.
Apparently the intermediate sprint was moved up a couple of kms, no idea why.
The gaps have changed dramatically. Facci will be back in the field soon, and the peloton is only 3 minutes behind the three leaders.
This years Giro is 3418 km long. The longest was 4337km in 1954, and the shortest was 2245 in 1909, the first year it was run.
An HTC-Columbia rider leads Sky and the rest of the peloton.
Voss takes of his jacket and gives it to DS Vittorio Algeri. In return he gets some fresh water bottles.
A mechanical for Farrar. Ouch, no he has gone down on a traffic island. Will he be able to come back for the closing sprint?
Farrar has two teammates bringing him back to the peloton.
Another crash, Guillame Blot of Cofidis who looks to be suffering and in a great deal of pain.
The three leaders are still grimly hanging on to their lead.
There are a lot of traffic islands along the way. And now a Katusha rider is down, very slow getting up.
The Katusha rider is Juan Horrach. He is up and going again.
The gap is down to under two minutes now.
Garmin is doing a team time trial among the team autos, with a BBox rider tagging along. Farrar is now dropping back to the team ar. Is hea having a shoe problem? No, he is getting various repairs to his bike.
Facci is back in the peloton, as the gap is now 1:55.
We have a field of 198 riders today. The most ever was 298 in 1928 – which is mind-boggling – and the fewest was 56 in 1912.
Bradley Wiggins has crashed, one of many in a really huge mass crash.
An Acqua & Sapone rider seems to be injured. Others too perhaps. A BMC rider is still sitting.
The BMC rider is not Evans.
About 50 riders were involved, including three or four Sky. They are now all furiously chasing, bringing themselves and Wiggins back up to the peloton.
Wiggins straightened his front wheel, got asistance from the mechanic and is now chasing to get back with three teammates.
They are chasing hard but shouldn't have a problem getitng back on because the bunch is not going hard.
The peloton is splittered now, with various groups chasing madly to get back up to the front.
The three leaders have 1:19 over the peloton, with the Wiggins group another 20 seconds back.
The Wiggins group has now caught the peloton again.
Flens and Voss have a word about what to do.
There are sitll individual riders moving up through the team cars.
The peloton goes around a sharp corner which features, of course, a traffic island. But they are all very careful this time.
Flens encourages Pirazzi to do his share of lead work.
The first rider to retire from this year's Giro d'Italia is Martin Kohler (BMC). No reports on why but he could have been involved in one of the many crashes.
Last Yukiya Arashiro of Bbox Bouygues Telecom was one of the first Japanese riders ever to finish the Tour de France. Now he is hoping to
become the first Japanese rider ever to finish both the Tour and the Giro d'Italia. “I love the Grand Tours. They are the most impressive cycling
events,” he told Cyclingnews.
Wiggins is back near near the front of the peloton now. A lot of Astana riders are up there, too.
The gap is almost exactly one minute now.
Sky continues to lead the relentless chase.
Voss refuses to bow to destiny and takes off out of the break broup. The others do not follow.
Flens eventually gives chase.
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of 300,000. The bell tower of its cathedral is the tallest building in
Holland, at 112 metre. It offers a spectacular view to those willing to climb the 465 stairs.
Sky, Astana, HTC-Columbia all at the front.
We are not sure what happened to Voss. Flens has 15 seconds on the field.
Looks like a handful of HTC-Columbia riders off the back of the peloton.
Voss is obviously back in the field by now. Flens continues to desperately hang on to his slimmest of leads.
The streets of Utrecht are filled with fans.
A Rabo rider goes down, Kozontchuk. He is back up.
Another very tight corner, succesfully negotiated. Flens will be caught momentarily now.
Still over 20 km to go!
That's it for Flens.
Sky in the lead, as always.
There are alot of curves and traffic islands in this city.
Will we see any attempted breaks from here on in?
It looks like Sky is keeping the pace high enough that no one will be able to get away.
Stephen Ferrand is at the finish for us in Utrecht and says that a light rain has started.
The field is spread out across the road. Some of the fans have to step back to avoid having their toes run over.
Rabobank is now to be seen near the front of the peloton. In the absence of Oscar Freire, they will look to Graeme Brown in the sprint.
Basso is near the front. HTC-Columbia's Marcel Sieberg brings Greipel up to the front, too.
The usual picture of Sky, Astana and HTC -Columbia at the front.
A tight turn onto a narrow street slows things down.
Astana is firmly in the front now.
A handful of riders are scrambling to catch the peloton. Most of them seem to be from Lampre.
Liquigas moves up as they hit the 10km marker.
Cunego is one of those who has fallen back.
A Lampre rider gets support from his team car. If Cunego was much closer to that car, he would be riding in it.
HTC--columbia now at the front. More and more riders falling off the back.
Abother mass crash.
Pozzato is one of those who went down.
Pozzato is getting medical attention.
Pozzato is just now getting back on his bike.
And we see our first wind echelon. The peloton has splittered, but due more to the crash than the wind.
Pozzato is definitely not a happy man, but he is giving it a go.
The first group is about 40 strong. AWe know that both Wiggins and Greipel are in it.
Another crash. Three riders down all look woozy. Is that the Cunego group? There are two Lampre riders and one Liquigas.
No, it may be that Wiggins is not in the lead group? And Sastre defnitely is not. He has his whole team with him pulling him up.
HTC--columbia and Liquigas lead the way. Wiggins not in lead group.
Four Liquigas riders in the lead.
That was it for Wiggins and the maglia rosa. He can't catch the lead group now.
Vinokourov kin the lead group.
Farrar is also there. They are in the last km.
a sky rider opens the spring. greipel way back.
Farrar takes it! He was able to come back from his crash earlier!
We still donÄt know who was second or third, or who has taken over the GC lead.
THe many crashes destroyed the set-up for HTC Columbia and most other teams.
It looks like Goss second and a Liquigas third.
Goss was second, Sabatini third, and Greipel fourth.
Evans was also in this first group. Will he take over the lead?
Evans is our new leader! He has one second over Farrar, and three over Vinokourov.
Here are the stage results:
1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia
3 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
4 Andre Greipel (Ger) Team HTC-Columbia
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
6 Chris Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
8 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
Congratulations to Farrar and Evans! The finale certainly turned out to be a lot more exciting than expected. Join us again tomorrow for the final stage of the Giro in the Netherlands.