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Giro d'Italia stage 2 - Live coverage

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Hello there and welcome to our live coverage of the Giro d'Italia. Stage 2 today, and a 149km stage to Agrigento, in Sicily, finishing with a short climb. It's a day where the GC riders will have to stay alert, but it's one for the puncheurs. 

The riders have all signed on and they're making their way to the start line. We'll be getting under in just five minutes' time. 

Before we get going, why not catch up on yesterday's action... 

We're off!

Ganna is in the pink jersey after his remarkable victory yesterday, while Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wears the ciclamino points jersey, on loan from Ganna. Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) is in the white for best young rider, on loan from Ganna and passed down via Almeida. Rick Zabel (Israel Start-Up Nation) is in blue as leader of the mountains classification after bring quickest up the early 1.1km climb on yesterday's TT. EF are still wearing ducks. 

We're still in the neutral zone, so why not have a read of Alasdair Fotheringham's stage preview, which includes plenty of detail on the final climb, which last featured in 2008. 

Ganna was on a ridiculous gold bike yesterday. Today, it's a special pink one. 

The flag drops and we are racing. Here come the first attacks. 

Zabel attacks, thinking about the cat-4 climb after 37.5km. He has a few riders with him.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is interested. Things come back together but the Belgian is on the move again now.

De Gendt has four in his slipstream as the peloton bunches up. This could be the break. 

The five riders up the road are:

After nearly 10km, the five leaders have opened up a lead of 2:30 over the peloton.

We're still on the first of four rolling climbs that open today's stage. Ineos have a couple of riders near the front, as do Bora-Hansgrohe, who have a contender for the stage win in Peter Sagan. 

And now, with the gap rising to 3:45, Ineos come to the front to start controlling this gap. It's Rohan Dennis on the front, followed by Salvatore Puccio and Ben Swift. 

Crash in the break

This is how the GC stands. 22 seconds is a big gap on a short climb where the differences back in 2008 were minimal, but Almeida will surely be thinking about trying to work his way into pink. 

Almeida, on his 2020 form, which he has clearly carried into this Giro, could be a shout for the win today, if the climb is ridden hard enough. That would hand him 10 bonus seconds. It's a tough one to call, as it's surely too hard for the pure sprinters, but there are a few more versatile riders like Michael Matthews and Peter Sagan who can cope with this sort of stuff. Then you have the pure puncheurs like Ulissi and even the GC riders with a decent kick like Thomas. 

Van Empel is back with the break now, and Dennis' pacemaking has stabilised their lead at 3:30. 

120km to go

The break are now on the first categorised climb of the day, the cat-4 ascent at Santa Ninfa.

Three mountains points are available at the top of the climb. Zabel, who's in the peloton, leads that competition, and none of these breakaway riders have any points so far.

De Gendt clearly fancies the blue jersey. The Belgian rips clear of his breakaway companions. 

De Gendt convincingly blasts clear to take the maximum points. Bais is second to the top, followed by Van Empel. 

107km to go

We mentioned the EF ducks a little earlier. Well, that's got them in trouble with the UCI, to the tune of 4,500 Swiss francs. Apparently, the new kit wasn't registered in time. Team boss Jonathan Vaughters voiced his outrage on social media, but the coverage and publicity around the kit and his team rolls on and on...

We've dealt with that categorised climb but we're now on another uphill towards the first of two intermediate sprints. This one carries points for the maglia ciclamino standings, so we'll see who's interested in that competition, with Sagan and Matthews two of the main candidates, along with the sprinters. The second intermediate sprint later on carries bonus seconds for GC, but no points. 

De Gendt is on the charge again. For the second time, he rides away from his companions to take maximum points, this time for the ciclamino classification. He doesn't just ride away, actually - he flies clear, opening huge gaps. Bais tries to go with him before realising it's no use, while the others are left lagging far behind. The breakaway specialist had a slightly disappointing Tour de France but he looks fresh here. 

De Gendt claims the maximum 12 points. There aren't quite so many as in the Tour de France intermediates, so with five riders from the break already across, there are points of 3-2-1 for the first three from the peloton. 

Only three points on offer? Cue a full lead-out train from FDJ. They're working for Arnaud Demare, who's had a great season so far. 

Fernando Gaviria is interested, too, and the pair hit out on this uphill sprint. 

Gaviria gets it ahead of Demare, with a gap back to the rest. There was a crash there, with a Cofidis rider hitting the deck. 

Not sure if it's Viviani or Consonni who crashed there, but Consonni is certainly down in another spill on the downhill. It's a right-hand bend and his bike gives way from underneath him. He's back on his way though. 

96km to go

In this mad world, it's also Liège-Bastogne-Liège day. Lizzie Deignan won the women's race with a 30km solo, but not before a dramatic chase from Grace Brown. We have full report, results and photos from that race here

85km to go now and the breakaway have taken their lead out to five minutes. 

76km to go

Matthews' Sunweb have posted a representative up there, while Mikkel Bjerg is also contributing for Ulissi's and Gaviria's UAE Team Emirates. No one from Sagan's Bora for the time being. 

Sunweb hit the front now and really lift the pace. Big acceleration. 

It's Nico Denz for Sunweb and he's putting in a huge turn. The peloton strings out into one long line and the gap to the break plummets by 40 seconds.

Astana's Manuele Boara is not happy about this, and moves to the front to wave his arms and ask Denz and Bjerg what they're playing at. 

70km to go and the gap is down to 3:45. 

Alexandr Vlasov (Astana) has been dropped. Not quite sure what the matter is with him. The young Russian has had a breakthrough season and many saw him as a plan B for this Giro behind Fuglsang. 

Vlasov stops

Vlasov leans over and it looks like he's about to be sick. Perhaps it's illness that's hampering him, because we've not seen him crash. Either way, that's that. He's in the car and his Giro is over. 

Astana's nightmare Giro continues. Even before the race, they had to change their line-up after a number of coronavirus positives. On the opening day, Miguel Angel Lopez crashed out and Fuglsang had a miserable time trial. Now the Dane has lost another of his most important allies. 

64km to go

Astana confirm that Vlasov was suffering from stomach problems. 

The five riders are still working well together despite this chase from behind. Into the last 50km now and the gap stands at 2:46. 

De Gendt looked far stronger than the rest of the break on the earlier climb and intermediate sprint. With this now going the wrong way, he must be thinking about how he can engineer a winning situation, but it's a tall order, with some big teams seemingly determined not to let this slip through their fingers. 

Bjerg and Denz knock it off a little and the gap stabilises at 2:55. Bora have now sent a rider up. 

A shot of our break

40km to go

Here's the Ineos line behind Bjerg. 

It's Patrick Gamper for Bora and it's him, Denz, and Bjerg rotating at the head of the bunch. It's not a team chase - just those three ahead of the eight Ineos riders. The gap falls to 1:30. 

A bit more about the final climb. Those with better memories than mine will recognise this finish from 2008, when Ricardo Ricco won ahead of Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin. The line was was slightly further down the climb than today, by around 250 metres, but we can still glean some clues from that day.

Into the final 25km we go and it's still the same situation - Denz, Bjerg, Gamper on the front, reducing the gap to nearly one minute now.

We're on a false flat drag now, but it'll soon turn downhill towards our second intermediate sprint, which carries bonus seconds for the first three - not that the breakaway riders will care much about that. There are no points on offer for the points classification, but there are points on offer for the intermediate sprints classification, just to make things nice and simple... 

The breakaway are still together and collaborating but their lead continues to fall. It's just above a minute now. 

Crash

It happens towards the back of the bunch – a touch of wheels maybe. Bookwalter is down for Mitchelton-Scott, Edet for Cofidis, and Paret-Peintre for AG2R. 

All the riders look more or less ok, although Edet is still on the ground. 

Edet gets going again and they're all back on their bikes. However, with 19km to, the pace is getting quicker and quicker and it'll be tough to get back to the bunch now. 

Here's how the final climb looks on paper. 

16km to go now and it's a different picture in the peloton. It's no longer those three riders chasing in front of the Ineos line - full teams are starting to organise their trains and fight for position. GC riders and stage contenders alike won't want to start this climb out of position. 

The increase in pace has seen the break's lead drop to 30 seconds as they head downhill now to that intermediate sprint. 

11.5km to go

De Gendt took the KOM points and the first climb and the ciclamino points at the first sprint, and he does the same here. He'll go into the lead of the intermediate sprints classification. 

And De Gendt immediately sits up, his job done for the day.

The others crack on for a little longer but the peloton is advancing now and it won't be long. 9.5km to go!

Jumbo-Visma have set up on the right, Ineos on the left. Astana down the middle. 

8.5km to go

Ineos are protecting Ganna's pink jersey but the main thing is to keep Thomas safe. Astana have had a terrible Giro so far but they hit the front with determination now. 

Almeida is moved up on the right now by his QuickStep henchmen. He’s second overall, 22 seconds behind Ganna on GC.

Bahrain McLaren are trying to move up now, and we see an EF duck for the first real time today. Jumbo once again come to the front on the right to try and stamp their authority. 

UAE take it up now as Ineos lose a bit of ground.

4km to go and we’re about to hit the final climb!

FDJ take it up now. Demare is a sprinter but he is a better climber than most...

It's calm enough on the lower slopes as the riders get out of the saddle without really straining. Mitchelton are to the fore, Sunweb too. 

Demare slips back, it doesn’t look like he’ll be figuring today. Howson is leading this for Mitchelton and Yates. Oomen is up there for Sunweb as Ineos put Narvaez up towards the front. Just over 2km to go!

It’s thinning out slightly but Sagan and Matthews are still there. The GC riders are all up towards the front now. No attacks for the time being.

Ganna is drifting to the back of the group now!

Here we go! UAE Take it up and Conti takes it up for Ulissi. Big acceleration with 1.3km to go!

QuickStep put Ballerini behind the UAE duo, who are digging in but not doing too much damage to this bunch.

Flamme rouge! 1Km to go. Vini Zabu launch an attack with Wackermann….

And now the damage is done. QuickStep send a man forward, it’s Honore. And now Sagan goes after them!

Ulissi, Honore, and Sagan together at the front now. Wackermann dropped.

It’s going to be a sprint between those three. Ulissi accelerates on the last little drag…. And takes it!!!

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia

A fine win from the Italian puncheur. Sagan is the stronger sprinter but it's uphill almost all the way to the line and Ulissi's final acceleration is utterly decisive. Sagan, who made a big effort to jump across in the first place, settles for second, several bike lengths back, with Honore third. Matthews was at the front of the main bunch a few seconds further back. 

Results

Ganna finished safely in that bunch, so he retains the maglia rosa. Bjerg didn't, so Thomas moves up to third overall.

General classification after stage 2

That's the seventh Giro stage win of Ulissi's career, and his first since 2016. This finish had his name written all over it, and he duly delivered.

AGRIGENTO ITALY OCTOBER 04 Arrival Diego Ulissi of Italy and UAE Team Emirates Celebration during the 103rd Giro dItalia 2020 Stage 2 a 149km stage from Alcamo to Agrigento 243m girodiitalia Giro on October 04 2020 in Agrigento Italy Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Giro stage is over but we're heading into the final 15km and to the decisive final climb at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Click here for our live coverage of that

Here's our report page, with full write-up, results, and photos

And here's what happened in Liège. Spoiler: Unbelievable scenes. 

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