Giro d'Italia 2021: Stage 2 preview

Stage 2: Stupinigi-Novara

Date: May 9, 2021 

Distance: 179km 

Stage start: 1:10 p.m. CEST

Stage type: Flat

Piemonte’s Grande Partenza continues with a flat stage to the region’s second city of Novara that should be a slam dunk for the sprinters. Starting at Stupinigi on the southern edge of Turin, the riders will initially head south, before turning to the north-east towards the finish town, which is hosting its first stage finish since Eddy Merckx won there during his race-winning debut in the corsa rosa back in 1968.

There’s just one categorised climb on the route, a fourth-category ascent at Montechiaro d’Asti that will put the first rider to cross it in the blue mountains classification jersey. Beyond the undulations around the halfway mark, the riders will take the short drop into the Po valley, where there are intermediate sprints at Tricerro and Vercelli, the road arrowing on towards the finish in Novara, the home town of two-time Giro winner Giuseppe Saronni, who now acts as an adviser for UAE Team Emirates.

Dominated last year by Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), who won four stages and claimed the cyclamen jersey as points winner, the bunch sprints should be as competitive as ever. UAE Team Emirate’s Fernando Gaviria, winner of five Giro stages, Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, winner of three, and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan, who finished second to Démare on three occasions last year as well as taking a fine solo breakaway win, will lead the foreign challenge, which should also feature in-form Alpecin-Fenix sprinter Tim Merlier.

Facing them will be the best of Italy’s sprinters, including Cofidis’ Elia Viviani, Qhubeka Assos’s European champion Giacomo Nizzolo, Trek-Segafredo’s fast-emerging Matteo Moschetti and AG2R Citroën’s Andrea Vendrame. There are no more than half a dozen clear opportunities for the sprinters in this climb-heavy race, which should ensure the sprinters’ teams won’t pass up this opportunity to grab the stage win they will all be looking for.

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