Giro d'Italia: Postlberger upsets the sprinters, takes first maglia rosa

They say the Giro d'Italia breeds chaos like no other Grand Tour. News of two positive doping tests on Thursday ensured the continuation of that theme in the race's 100th edition and, despite a relatively calm start to Friday’s opening stage, there was more to come as Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) upset the sprinters to pull on the first maglia rosa of the race.

The Austrian, making his Grand Tour debut, was meant to be working for sprinter Sam Bennett or, failing the Irishman, for Matteo Pelucchi. In any case, the 206km leg from Alghero to Olbia, flat save for a trio of fourth-category climbs, was meant to end in a bunch kick and the pink the jersey on the shoulders of one of the peloton's fastmen.

But when Pöstlberger took up the reins with a couple of kilometres remaining, shortly after a crash had disrupted the bunch, a gap appeared between himself and Caleb Ewan's Orica-Scott lead-out man. And it only got bigger, as Bennett urged his lead-out man to crack on over race radio. More splits emerged in the technical city streets and Pöstlberger did just that, carrying a healthy lead into the final few hundred metres – enough to sit up and celebrate in the final 100 metres.

As he did so, the riders who everyone had been talking about enacted a somewhat futile sprint for second place, Ewan getting there ahead of Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) – all no doubt bitterly disappointed.

"We wanted to try for a sprint for the final for Sam. Through the city the lead-out trains, I don't know, they lost my wheel or something and I had a gap," explained Pöstlberger.

"I heard over the radio, 'C'mon, Posty, go try!' and I put all I had in. It worked out – victory for the team, first professional victory for me, maglia rosa. I think I will need many weeks to take this victory in. It's unbelievable, really."

The point at which the chaos unfurled was a tight 90-degree right hand bend just over three kilometres out, where a couple of riders crashed and a whole lot more were held up. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), who came so close to overall victory last year, lost 13 seconds, though all of the other favourites for the general classification managed to finish safely in the main group.

There were hugs, cheers, and general disbelief among the Bora-Hansgrohe riders and staff. The victory was enough but it was pretty much a perfect day for the German team as Cesare Benedetti earned the King of the Mountains jersey from the breakaway. With Pöstlberger leading the general, points, and youth classifications, it's a clean sweep of jerseys for Bora, who also top the teams ranking.

"It's a dream!" said directeur sportif Jens Zemke. "The dream was to take one stage win here. That we did it in the first day is even better. Now we can ride freely, and celebrate three weeks through Italy and enjoy it. We are super happy with these jerseys, it's top."


How it unfolded

On the starting line Friday morning in Alghero were 195 riders – three short of the usual Grand Tour quota. Two of them were down to doping disgraces after news emerged of positive tests for Bardiani-CSF's Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni. The Italian Pro Continental team arrived in Alghero as normal and although they weren't met with boos, they were met with a multitude of questions and the inescapable suspicion that they might not be going all the way to Milan.

The other rider missing was Michele Scarponi, who tragically lost his life three weeks ago. The Italian was meant to lead Astana and the team decided not to call up a replacement in his honour, with the remaining eight riders gathered at the front of the bunch on the start line to lead a minute's silence observed by the entire bunch and the hundreds of fans.

The flag dropped and after a brisk start a group of six riders broke clear of the peloton, including an unperturbed Bardiani representative, Mirco Maestri. He was joined by Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcin Bialoblocki (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) and Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Selle Italia). They quickly opened up a lead of over seven minutes in the opening 25km, before the sprinters' teams committed men to the front of the bunch to prevent things form getting out of hand.

That combined effort reduced the gap to 4:30 as the breakaway hit the first of three category-four climbs – the Multeddu at km 63 – on the otherwise flat 206km route up round the Sardinian coast. Benedetti accelerated away three kilometres from the 'King of the Mountains' point and, though Teklehaimanot closed him down, he kicked again, taking Zhupa with him. He comfortably out-kicked the Albanian to earn himself three points and put himself in the provisional lead of the mountains classification.

It was soon time for the second climb - the Trinità d'Agultu – and the outcome was the same, even if it played out differently. Teklehaimanot was the one to go early and opened up a sizeable lead, but Benedetti dragged himself back and shot past in sight of the line to take maximum points once again.

The action on the climb spelled change for the breakaway as Maestri was unable to hold the pace and drifted back to the peloton, while Bialoblocki almost suffered the same fate but managed to haul himself back after a desperate chase.

With 100km remaining, and five riders left in the break, the gap stood at 3:15, with everyone in the peloton playing it calm. The gap didn't get any higher as the riders continued into a headwind, encountering the first intermediate sprint of the 100th Giro after with 70km remaining, whereupon Zhupa claimed the maximum 10 points after a close battle with Teklehaimanot, who missed out again.

The gap came down towards the two-minute mark over the following 40 or so kilometres, which were ticked off in calm fashion ahead of the second intermediate sprint, where this time there were bonus seconds (3, 2, 1) on offer. And finally something went Teklehaimanot's way as he saw off Brutt and Zhupa.

The gap was down to a minute by the San Pantaleo climb – 5km long with some gradients of over 10 per cent – with 26km remaining. Bialoblocki was quickly dropped, while the other four stuck together up to the final 100 metres, whereupon Benedetti sprang clear to make it a full house of KOM points and secure the blue mountains classification jersey for tomorrow's stage.

There was no action back in the bunch as Orica-Scott's Svein Tuft led for most of the climb, helping to cut the deficit to 45 seconds. The gap was still almost 30 seconds under the 10km to go banner, where the sprint teams were already setting up their trains, alongside those of the GC teams looking to keep their leaders out of trouble.

It was still bunched together under the 5km banner but it soon lined out as Quick-Step's GC man Bob Jungels took it up for Gaviria. That spelled the end for the break, and things soon got hectics with a couple of tight bends. One 90-degree right-hander caused a crash for BMC's Silvan Dillier, holding up a number of riders – just shy of the crucial safety net of the 3km to go mark.

UAE took it up, then Bora took over with 2km to go. Or at least that's what we thought. In reality, it turned out to be the start of one of the unlikeliest solo victories you're likely to see at a major race all season – one that kicked off the 100th Giro in classic Giro fashion.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe5:13:35
2Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 1 - Cell 2
3André Greipel (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 2 - Cell 2
4Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 3 - Cell 2
5Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 4 - Cell 2
6Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension DataRow 5 - Cell 2
7Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 6 - Cell 2
8Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension DataRow 7 - Cell 2
9Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-HansgroheRow 8 - Cell 2
10Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team SunwebRow 9 - Cell 2
11Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 10 - Cell 2
12Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step FloorsRow 11 - Cell 2
13Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 12 - Cell 2
14Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 13 - Cell 2
15Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step FloorsRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier TriestinaRow 15 - Cell 2
17Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 16 - Cell 2
18Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team SkyRow 17 - Cell 2
19Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 18 - Cell 2
20Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team EmiratesRow 19 - Cell 2
21Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 23 - Cell 2
25Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Diego Rosa (Ita) Team SkyRow 25 - Cell 2
27Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-ScottRow 26 - Cell 2
28Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team SunwebRow 27 - Cell 2
29Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 30 - Cell 2
32Georg Preidler (Aut) Team SunwebRow 31 - Cell 2
33Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 33 - Cell 2
35Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 34 - Cell 2
36Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 35 - Cell 2
37Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 37 - Cell 2
39Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 39 - Cell 2
41Ivan Savitckii (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 40 - Cell 2
42Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 41 - Cell 2
43Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 42 - Cell 2
44Mikel Landa (Spa) Team SkyRow 43 - Cell 2
45Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 44 - Cell 2
46Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-MeridaRow 45 - Cell 2
47Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-DrapacRow 46 - Cell 2
48Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension DataRow 47 - Cell 2
49Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 48 - Cell 2
50Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 49 - Cell 2
51Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 50 - Cell 2
52Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJRow 51 - Cell 2
53Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 52 - Cell 2
54Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 53 - Cell 2
55Felix Großschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 54 - Cell 2
56Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension DataRow 55 - Cell 2
57Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 56 - Cell 2
58Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-ScottRow 57 - Cell 2
59Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 58 - Cell 2
60François Bidard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Jan Bárta (Cze) Bora-HansgroheRow 61 - Cell 2
63Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 62 - Cell 2
64Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 63 - Cell 2
65Pavel Brutt (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 64 - Cell 2
66Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 65 - Cell 2
67Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 66 - Cell 2
68Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 67 - Cell 2
69Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 68 - Cell 2
70Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-AlpecinRow 69 - Cell 2
71Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:13
72Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 71 - Cell 2
73Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team SunwebRow 72 - Cell 2
74Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 73 - Cell 2
75Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-DrapacRow 74 - Cell 2
76José Mendes (Por) Bora-HansgroheRow 75 - Cell 2
77Adam James Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 76 - Cell 2
78José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-AlpecinRow 77 - Cell 2
79Michal Golas (Pol) Team SkyRow 78 - Cell 2
80Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek-SegafredoRow 80 - Cell 2
82Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 81 - Cell 2
83Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:18
84Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 83 - Cell 2
85Ivan Rovny (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 84 - Cell 2
86Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJRow 85 - Cell 2
87Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJRow 86 - Cell 2
88Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 87 - Cell 2
89Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
90Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJRow 89 - Cell 2
91Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 90 - Cell 2
92Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team SkyRow 91 - Cell 2
93Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 92 - Cell 2
94Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 93 - Cell 2
95Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 94 - Cell 2
96Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 95 - Cell 2
97William Bonnet (Fra) FDJRow 96 - Cell 2
98Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 97 - Cell 2
99Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-DrapacRow 98 - Cell 2
100Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 100 - Cell 2
102Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 101 - Cell 2
103Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 102 - Cell 2
104Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Sebastian Henao (Col) Team SkyRow 104 - Cell 2
106Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier TriestinaRow 105 - Cell 2
107Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier TriestinaRow 106 - Cell 2
108Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 107 - Cell 2
109Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-DrapacRow 108 - Cell 2
110Simon Geschke (Ger) Team SunwebRow 109 - Cell 2
111Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 110 - Cell 2
112Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 111 - Cell 2
113Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension DataRow 112 - Cell 2
114Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 113 - Cell 2
115Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team SunwebRow 114 - Cell 2
116Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 115 - Cell 2
117Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 116 - Cell 2
118Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJRow 117 - Cell 2
119Michal Schlegel (Cze) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 118 - Cell 2
120Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 119 - Cell 2
121Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJRow 121 - Cell 2
123Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 122 - Cell 2
124Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 123 - Cell 2
125Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Wilier Triestina0:00:34
126Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 125 - Cell 2
127Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 126 - Cell 2
128Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 127 - Cell 2
129Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 128 - Cell 2
130Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 129 - Cell 2
131Twan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 130 - Cell 2
132Cristian Rodriguez (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 131 - Cell 2
133Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 132 - Cell 2
134Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:00:53
135Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:01:09
136Johann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension DataRow 135 - Cell 2
137Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 136 - Cell 2
138Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 137 - Cell 2
139Julen Amezqueta (Spa) Wilier TriestinaRow 138 - Cell 2
140Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 139 - Cell 2
141Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 140 - Cell 2
142Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 141 - Cell 2
143Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 142 - Cell 2
144Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJRow 143 - Cell 2
145Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 144 - Cell 2
146Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 145 - Cell 2
147Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJRow 146 - Cell 2
148Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 148 - Cell 2
150Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 149 - Cell 2
151Ángel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha-AlpecinRow 150 - Cell 2
152Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 151 - Cell 2
153Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step FloorsRow 152 - Cell 2
154Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 153 - Cell 2
155Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension DataRow 154 - Cell 2
156Hugh Carthy (GBr) Cannondale-DrapacRow 155 - Cell 2
157Ruben Plaza (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 156 - Cell 2
158Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier TriestinaRow 157 - Cell 2
159Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 158 - Cell 2
160Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 159 - Cell 2
161Branislau Samoilau (Blr) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 160 - Cell 2
162Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom – RusveloRow 161 - Cell 2
163Jose Herrada (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 162 - Cell 2
164Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 163 - Cell 2
165Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 164 - Cell 2
166Carlos Verona (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 165 - Cell 2
167Philip Deignan (Irl) Team SkyRow 166 - Cell 2
168Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 167 - Cell 2
169Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 168 - Cell 2
170Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 169 - Cell 2
171Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar TeamRow 170 - Cell 2
172Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 171 - Cell 2
173Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 172 - Cell 2
174Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 173 - Cell 2
175Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step FloorsRow 174 - Cell 2
176Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team SunwebRow 175 - Cell 2
177Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 176 - Cell 2
178Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team SunwebRow 177 - Cell 2
179Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 178 - Cell 2
180Alberto Losada (Spa) Katusha-AlpecinRow 179 - Cell 2
181Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 180 - Cell 2
182Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:01:21
183Evgeny Shalunov (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo0:02:18
184Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:02:32
185Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Drapac0:02:49
186Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-ScottRow 185 - Cell 2
187Marcin Bialoblocki (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 186 - Cell 2
188Ilia Koshevoy (Blr) Wilier TriestinaRow 187 - Cell 2
189Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 188 - Cell 2
190Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-ScottRow 189 - Cell 2
191Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:03:46
192Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:05:21
193Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:07:53
194Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:09:30
195Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:09:48
DNSStefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 195 - Cell 2
DNSNicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 196 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Santa Teresa di Gallura, km 135
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Wilier Triestina10pts
2Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension Data6Row 1 - Cell 3
3Marcin Bialoblocki (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Pavel Brutt (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo2Row 3 - Cell 3
5Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe1Row 4 - Cell 3
6Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension DataRow 5 - Cell 2 Row 5 - Cell 3
7Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension DataRow 6 - Cell 2 Row 6 - Cell 3
8Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 7 - Cell 2 Row 7 - Cell 3
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