Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia.
Good morning from Albenga, where the riders are signing on ahead of the first road stage of this year's race. Simon Gerrans, resplendent in pink, has the broadest smile of all as he waves to the crowd and heads to the start line.
The riders will roll out in around 20 minutes from now.
After yesterday's TTT exploits it's over to the sprinters for the first time in the race. We've a crop of fastmen here at the Giro with Greipel, Matthews, Mezgec and Nizzolo, Boonen, Modolo, Haussler, Viviani and Hofland to name but a few. The stage is relatively flat, with no major climbs to speak of as well.
And for a run-down on the top five sprinters to watch today, you can always check out our video on the matter, right here.
At the start this morning all the attention is understandably on Orica GreenEdge though after their dominant ride in the TTT yesterday.
1 Orica GreenEdge 0:19:26
2 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:07
3 Astana Pro Team 0:00:13
4 Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:19
5 Movistar Team 0:00:21
6 BMC Racing Team 0:00:25
7 IAM Cycling
8 FDJ.fr 0:00:26
9 Team Sky 0:00:27
10 Team Katusha
The Australian outfit have become the dominant force in the art of team time trialing in recent years and they were at their best on the road to San Remo yesterday. It means Simon Gerrans is in pink for the first time in his career and they have a handily placed Michael Matthews waiting in the wings if he picks up a couple of bonus seconds at the finish. The race could not have started any better for Matt White's men.
In terms of the GC Contador, Uran and Aru will have been relatively happy with their rides yesterday. Contador's team in fact led at the intermediate time check at 9.9km but lost ground - and their leader briefly - and had to settle for second place on the stage.
However, Richie Porte and his Team Sky squad will be disappointed with their ride. They were pushed down to 9th on the stage and lost 20 seconds to Contador. Interestingly it was Leopold Konig who led the team home and not Porte or home favourites Viviani or Puccio.
“I think we were good today, everyone was pretty smooth and solid. It was a really fast course. I think with what we had, we did a good time trial,” Porte said at the finish.
“It wasn’t great to lose so much time but it’s only seconds. At the end of the day, its seconds now but at the end of the Giro it’s going to be minutes. You can’t get carried away with losing a few seconds in the first week. It’s not ideal to lose time but it’s not the end of the world. I still think it’s quite a good start to the race and it feels good to get started."
Still, another day, another lira... Euro... and Team Sky will be looking to bounce back with Viviani in the sprint today.
The riders have started to move towards the start line, the official roll out taking place in just a few minutes from now.
Before the start, remember that we will be bringing you video highlights from each and every stage. You can find the TTT video, just here.
One man at the start this morning is Oleg Tinkov. He'll be riding part of the stage later on today.
And they're off, the riders heading through the neutralized zone for stage 2 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Gerrans near the front has he leads the pack at the early stages of the day. One day in pink for the former Milan San Remo winner or will he hold on?
175km remaining from 177km
And from the gun Orica allow a break to go clear. Five men in the move Frapporti, Owsian, Berlato, Zhupa and Lindeman and they have 1'30 over the peloton after 2km of racing.
Bertjan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) is the highest placed rider in the move at 45 seconds down on Gerrans' lead so he's the maglia rosa on the road at the moment as the peloton ease back and allow the break to establish a decent lead.
It will be interesting to see which team takes control of the peloton first and starts to organise a chase. Most likely it will be Lotto Soudal for Greipel and Orica for Matthews and Gerrans.
In case you missed it, here's our gallery of bike tech from yesterday's team time trial.
@Etixx_QuickStep Sun, 10th May 2015 12:12:51
So the lead to the break quickly moves out to nearly four minutes. No stress back in the peloton as they'll keep tabs on the situation and then decide on the correct course of action.
Back to Team Sky for just a moment and Rupert Guinness has caught up with Richie Porte's coach Tim Kerrison to talk about training, health, Wiggins, swimming, and Porte's chances over the three-week race. It's a real must read.
RG: Either way, Richie seems to be racing now with far more assuredness …
TK: There is a real confidence. It is very reminiscent of Bradley in 2012. When they are on it, those guys are on it. They are always where they need to be. They never miss a beat. They are always in the right position. It’s because they have both the physical ability to be there more easily than anyone else, and … the more commitment and sacrifice they have made to be in the great shape they are in, the more they want to make sure they don’t make any silly mistakes like miss a split. There is an attention to detail that carries over from the training to the racing as well.
167km remaining from 177km
10km into the stage and the five leaders now have a full six minutes over the peloton. The bunch still won't be too concerned but once they break move out to eight minutes they'll probably start to show a bit of control and position one or two men at the front to keep things tidy.
And thanks to all our lovely Twitter followers. We've just broken the 180K mark. If you're not following us on Twitter, you really should be (not a threat, promise)...
Last night Alasdair Fotheringham wrote a piece on how long Orica GreenEdge might be able to hold onto the maglia rosa for...
Sunday’s flattish stage, 177 kilometres from Abenga to Genova, with just one fourth category climb, is widely expected to end in a bunch sprint. Last year, even though Matthews did not win the second stage starting and finishing Belfast he took over the lead from his teammate Svein Tuft and then held it for six days. He also rounded off his Giro with an impressive uphill stage victory at Monte Cassino.
This time around Orica GreenEdge’s closest rivals on GC are Tinkoff-Saxo and they are probably willing to let the Australians handle the pressure of holding the lead in the first week. So even if Matthews would have sprinters and fast finishers of the calbre of André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) to contend with for the stage, he is in pole position for pink.
The entire story is here.
152km remaining from 177km
And just before we hit the 25km covered point the break push their advantage out to 8'11. So, still no real reaction from the peloton in the early phase of the stage. Who are you tipping for today's stage honours? Let us know with a Tweet.
"look after that for me, will you.."
Race organisers RCS have come through with a weather report for the stage.
Albenga, 12.55: Bright with some scattered cloud, 28°C. Wind: moderate - E 12 km/h.
Genova, 17.00: Clear skies, 25°C. Wind: calm.
Most of the terrain for the remainder of the stage is rolling but we do have a fourth cat climb later in the stage, the Prato Zanino ascent. From there we head into Genova with two circuits of a 9.5km loop.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 10th May 2015 12:34:53
Still no real reaction from the peloton at this stage and the five leaders continue to share the workload between them. Lindeman is the leader of the race on the road, having started the stage 45 seconds down on Simon Gerrans.
Given Simon Gerrans' pink jersey win yesterday where do you think he stands in the all-time hall of fame for Australian cycling? Above or below the likes of Brad McGee, Robbie McEwen and Cadel Evans? Let us know on Twitter.
@favershamoptic Sun, 10th May 2015 12:53:42
@tinkoff_saxo Sun, 10th May 2015 13:06:42
137km remaining from 177km
40km into the stage and the break of five still hold an advantage of eight minutes over the Orica GreenEdge led peloton.
And now we cross over live to Matt White in the Orica GreenEdge car.
@v1ltr10 Sun, 10th May 2015 13:29:15
Heinrich Haussler, pre-race, has told reports that IAM Cycling will work for Matteo Pelucchi.
112km remaining from 177km
65km covered by the break, and the lead now out to 9'12.
@LottoJumbo_road Sun, 10th May 2015 13:44:04
The peloton are riding right along the coast line, now and the conditions are perfect with the sun out and hardly any wind. The bunch are lined out at the moment though with Saxo, Team Sky near the front. It's still Hepburn who is pulling on all the strings with 95km to go and the gap at 9'08.
90km remaining from 177km
Just a shade over 90km to go and Orica just have the one man on the front at the moment. The gap is holding at nine minutes but we should see a few more teams join the chase in the next phase of racing. They have to if they want to try and win the stage.
@ORICA_GreenEDGE Sun, 10th May 2015 13:56:14
The work on the front of the peloton is starting to pay off and the gap to the break is now at 8'11.
It's all a little tame at the moment as the peloton slowly chip away at the leaders' advantage, which holds at around the eight minute mark.
The peloton shuttle through the feedzone, the pace slightly easing up for a brief moment before Orica move up to the front and Durbridge starts to set the pace.
At the back of the peloton Visconti is coming back through the cars. The Italian is a good bet on a stage win in this year's race given that Movistar don't really have a genuine contender for the overall win.
The gap comes down to 6'24 with 73km to go as we see Trek come to the front with most of their team. The American outfit looking out for Nizzolo today. They want to pick up the last few points at the intermediate sprint.
Giant have also moved up towards the front of the peloton with the gap holding at 6'00. We're closing in on the first and only categorized climb of the stage.
The next intermediate sprint coming up and Lindeman goes from a long way out but Frapporti takes it on the line.
Steady progress from the peloton with the gap down to 4'30. Zhupa drifts towards the back of the break and picks up some food and some advice from his team car.
Cheng Ji (Team Giant-Alpecin) has taken over from Luke Durbridge and begins to tap out the required pace at the head of the peloton.
The leaders are on the climb at the moment and they're losing time. Still, the first holder of the mountains jersey will come from this group. At the moment Owsian is at the front.
Frapporti drops his chain so he will not be in contention for the climbing points. And it's Lindeman who takes the climb, the points and the jersey at the finish. They have 4'07 over the peloton with 56km to go.
Towards the front Contador has his team around him, just keeping out of trouble. The Tinkoff team right where they need to be.
The Spaniard is sitting just off Basso's wheel while just few feet away we can see both Uran and Porte.
And it's actually Basso who moves up and starts to set the pace on the climb, with the gap at under four minutes to the break. Early mind games from the Russian team?
Aru is wise to it all though and he and his Astana team congregate just behind the men in yellow and blue.
At the back of the peloton Nizzolo has been dropped, which is quite a surprise.
The work from Contador and his team have cut the gap to the break down to 3'00.
This is real pace setting from Tinkoff Saxo and they're shedding riders at the back of the bunch. There's genuine intent and purpose about this move.
They're over the climb but there's been a crash. BMC and Bardiani have riders down.
A Kastuha rider is also involved. And that's Barbin who came down. He's holding his wrist but it looks like he'll try and get back on his bike (or a spare).
Tinkoff still continue to hold control of the front of the peloton as we enter the final 48km of the stage. The gap to the break is at 3'29 as the race continues to weave along the coastline.
Both Trek and Giant have hustled to the front, meaning Contador and his team have eased off in their pace duties. The gap to the five leaders with 41km to go is 2'37.
35km remaining from 177km
35km to go and the gap is down to two minutes. Giant, Trek and Lotto have controlling the pace at the moment.
Greipel has his entire team around him with 30km to go and the gap at 2'00.
No real urgency in the field, they have the break pegged and under complete control before we start the circuit of 9.5km, which the peloton will do twice before the gentle uphill finish to the line.
25km remaining from 177km
Into the final 25km of today's action, and the gap is down to a meager 1'24. It peaked earlier at over nine minutes. Tinkoff are still near the front, mind, with Contador neatly tucked in behind his devoted teammates.
And there's a crash!
Haussler is down and on the floor. Another Bardiani rider on the deck as well Matteo Pelucchi. So a nightmare for IAM Cycling.
Darwin Atapuma is also involved in the fall as well as Tanel Kangert.
Chavanel is also looking for a new bike, so that's three IAM Cycling riders taken out in that crash.
At the front of the race the five leaders have 51 seconds on the peloton. The break are about to start the first of two finishing circuits.
Almost all over for the break, the cars are being taken out from between them and the peloton as Giant an Orica lead the bunch.
And there's another crash. This time it's Quintana who is down. He's quickly on his feet though and should be fine.
With all the crashes Contador has said enough is enough and he moves his team to the front of the race. The Spaniard doesn't want any risks on this first road stage. Astana are just behind them.
Owsian has attacked the break with 13km to go.
However the peloton are within touching distance now.
Owsian and Zhupa are clear of the peloton with the rest of the break now caught. The two leaders just have a few seconds on the peloton with 12km to go .
And there's another crash in the peloton, this time near the front. BMC and Katusha both involved. And Haussler is down once more.
And Lotto NL are now leading the peloton and there are splits.
It's still Tinkoff Saxo on the front. The break has now all been caught.
Inside the final 10km of racing and Tinkoff Saxo lead the peloton over the line with one more circuit to come. There's a real split in the bunch though. Gerrans has made it.
Maybe 30 riders in the second group, BMC with riders, there so too with Lampre and Pozzovivo and Hesjedal are both in that second group.
A big moment in the race for Pozzovivo and Hesjedal, who are losing ground on the peloton, led by Tinkoff Saxo and Alberto Contador.
Some tight corners in the finishing circuit but most of the sprinters are still here. With Tinkoff doing all this work the sprint trains should be relatively fresh.
7km remaining from 177km
Into the final 7km of racing and Tinkoff up the pace once more. Astana just on their left wing.
No sign of Uran but we couldn't spot him in the second or third groups on the road.
Riders are making contact though with the bunch all the time. Greipel, Matthews, and Porte are all in the front group.
Gilbert is there with Zabel. Aru is there too as we see Team Sky move up towards the front of the bunch.
Into the final 5km of the race with Tinkoff still doing all the work on the front of the peloton. Even Basso is right near the front of the action.
Orica are moving up on the right hand side.
Contador is third wheel ahead of a bunch sprint.
Inside 3km and now Tinkoff ease up a bit and Team Sky hit the front.
It's Eisel on the front and he's working for Viviani. Nizzolo and Boonen are also in the mix with 2km to go.
Paolini hits the front but here come Lampre for Modolo.
Trek lead into the final 1000m.
Now Orica hit the front . Boonen too.
Greipel is there as well but a bit far back.
The German opens his sprint and goes right.
Hofland goes left but he has Viviani on his wheel.
And Viviani takes the win.
Greipel went far too early that time and Hofland tracked him perfectly. The only problem for the Lotto rider was that Viviani was right on his wheel and had just enough to come through on the line for his first win in a grand tour. We may still have a new race leader in Mattthews who was 7th on the stage.
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
2 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team 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) Nippo - Vini Fantini
10 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
And we have a new race leader:
General classification after stage 2
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
2 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
3 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
Almost the first words from Viviani after he won were to remind everyone that the team are here to protect and ride for Porte. Today they took a stage win, the best possible way to bounce back after losing time yesterday.
Matthews seemed to be riding for the jersey rather than the win today. He was led out and dropped off near the front really early on. Modolo almost crashed at one point, we'll have to see that again, but no doubt that Viviani and Hofland will challenge Griepel throughout this year's race. The German looked strong but timed is sprint poorly.
Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos from the stage, right here. We'll be back tomorrow for complete coverage of stage 3 of this year's Giro d'Italia.
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