Welcome everyone. It's day 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico and the first open stage of the race. It's a lumpy day out there and a chance for the likes of Van Avermaet, Sagan or Stybar, who won in Pomarance last year.
This here is a seven-man breakaway on the move at the moment and they are: Hugo Houle (Ag2r La Mondiale), Davide Ballerini, Raffaello Bonusi (Androni – Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani – CSF), Alan Marangoni (Nippo – Fantini), Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk). The peloton was happy to let them go as soon as racing started and with just under 10 kilometres run they have 4:20 on the main group.
This is what the parcours looks like today.
The GC riders will be looking for something of a slightly easier day out after a fast and furious start to the day with the team time trial to open the day. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch highlights of stage 1 here.
BMC were the big winners yesterday along with Quick-Step and Movistar, while Team Sky lost out. This is how things ended yesterday in the top 10.
1 BMC Racing 0:23:20
2 Quick-Step Floors 0:00:17
3 Movistar Team 0:00:22
5 Orica-Scott 0:00:25
6 LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40
7 Lotto Soudal 0:00:52
8 Bahrain-Merida 0:00:53
9 Dimension Data
10 Astana 0:00:55
Damiano Caruso led the BMC team across the line yesterday and it the rider in the blue jersey of race leader.
1 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:23:21
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
5 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:16
8 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
10 Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
22 kilometres in the latest time gap for the escapees is 4:40.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 9th Mar 2017 10:19:49
Team Sky was one of the big losers yesterday after they suffered three wheel failures. Gianni Moscon had a spectacular crash when his went in spectacular style. Read the full story here.
The peloton is not letting the six up front get too much rope. Their gap is trimmed a little once again and has come down to 4:22. After an hour of racing, the average speed has been 40kph.
Hugo Houle is the best placed of the breakaway riders in the general classification. His AG2R La Mondiale team managed an admirable 13th place yesterday, losing only a minute to BMC Racing.
This might well be the race of the two seas but this is also the week of two races and our live coverage of Paris-Nice stage 5 is underway. If you've got time on your hand or you're bored at work and want to follow two races at the same time then head on over.
Damiano Caruso resplendent in blue this morning with Peter Sagan ahead of the start.
As I mentioned earlier, it was Zdenek Stybar that took the honours on this same stage last year. The Czech rider jumped clear in the final three kilometres and held off the pack by just a single second. You take a look back at the stage here with our race report and video highlights.
The riders are about a quarter of the way into the stage and the gap has grown again. The six leaders have 5:40 on the peloton, which has eased up a little bit in this second hour of racing.
169km remaining from 228km
There are three classified climbs for the riders to tackle today. They're all packed into the latter half of this stage with the first only rising up after 123km. That's still about 50 kilometres down the road.
The scenery around the route today, an let's face it the whole race, is stunning. Not that the riders have much of a chance to look at it properly as the gap grows out to 5:45.
It's perhaps worth nothing that there are three riders from the Italian wildcard teams Androni Giocattoli and Nippo-Vini Fantini in the break today. Both teams missed out on Giro d'Italia wildcards and have been trying to strong-arm the organisers RCS, who also organise Tirreno, into allowing them to enter. They'll no doubt be out to prove a point this week.
On a side note. There was news last night that caffeine could make its way onto WADA's banned list. We hope its just in competition or coffee rides will become a thing of the past.
The pace is much the same as we close on the second hour of racing. Just a slightly slow average speed of 39kph for the leaders.
Some women's cycling for you now and the WM3 Pro Cycling squad had to fight for survival last season after Rabobank pulled out of cycling once and for all. I spoke to the team manager Eric van den Boom about life after Rabobank and the controversial appointment of Jeroen Blijlevens as a directeur sportif. You can read the full story here.
More on the Team Sky wheel failures too. Shimano, who make the PRO wheels used by Sky and others in the peloton, have said they are investigating the incident. You can read all about it here.
With the race leader in their line-up, BMC is understandably setting the pace at the front of the peloton. The latest time check to the escapees is 4:50.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 9th Mar 2017 11:56:54
137km remaining from 228km
The riders are picking up a spot of lunch in San Martino and are closing in quickly on the first ascent of the day. Around 30 kilometres until they reach the Serrazzano.
The gap drops a touch as the escapees do their best not to drop their musettes. It's 4:18 at the moment but it's likely to grow again when the bunch come through in a moment or two.
We're over the 100km ridden mark today but as this stage is so long it's not even halfway. The toughest is yet to come!
It's a pretty young break out there with five of the riders aged between 22 and 26. Alan Marangoni is by far the eldest of the six-man move at 32. Marangoni has been a professional since 2009. He moved to Liquigas in 2011 and moved over when it became Cannondale and eventually merged with Garmin. He was an under-23 Italian time trial champion but his only professional win was a team time trial victory at the Czech Cycling Tour last season.
The youngest member of the break is Davide Ballerini, who is 22 and is no relation to the former rider Franco Ballerini. He rode as a stagiaire last season with Tinkoff before signing up with Androni Giocattoli over the winter. He finished 9th in last year's under-23 Tour of Flanders.
Mark Renshaw collecting a musette in the feed zone. Picture courtesy of Dimension Data.
The climbing is about to begin. The gap is 4:45 but it's likely to start coming down pretty sharpish from here on out.
The first mountains jersey of the race is up for grabs today so expect plenty of action in the peloton as the six men up front battle for that.
BMC is unlikely to lose the leader's jersey today with 17 seconds between them and the Quick-Step riders but it might change hands within the team. Last year's winner Greg Van Avermaet was there with the team at the finish yesterday and therefore has the same time as Damiano Caruso. A good finish today will move him into the jersey.
Four minutes is the gap as the escapees make their way up the first GPM.
Today's finish is marginally easier than it was last year according to our reporter on the ground Stephen Farrand. Paolo Bettini, who lives close by to the finish, helped designed it and made it a little easier to open up the possibilities. Gaviria, who now rents a house from Alessandro Pettachi in Italy, could be in with a shout today.
All together for the escapees with 1km to go until the top of the first climb. Marangoni sitting on the front, waiting to pounce.
Marangoni sprints for the GPM line with Maestri in the wheel. Ballerini tries to get him up the inside but Marangoni shuts him off and the elder rider takes the full points at the top.
Stefan Kung isn't too happy with the TV motorbike and moves off the front to have a go at him. Manuel Quinziato gives him his thoughts too. Riders are becoming more vocal about making sure the bikes are sufficiently far away. The bike has now moved.
89km remaining from 228km
The gap has been hovering around 3:50 for some time now. The peloton is not quite ready to start pulling the six escapees back.
He might be the defending champion but Greg Van Avermaet is being put to use as a water carrier. He drops back up to the car to pick up a bottle and maybe some tactical information.
The leaders will pass through Pomarance for the first time in about 10km and will hit the second of the two intermediate sprints. They're racing for the first one right now.
Maestri missed out on the mountains points earlier and he puts in a big effort to take the first intermediate sprint points available. He may have regretted how early he went though because it ended up being a really long one. The sprint point was on a slight incline too, just to add a little more difficulty.
BMC doing their work on the front. They've been ever present on the front today as they look after Caruso in the blue jersey.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 9th Mar 2017 13:30:08
Maestri takes the points at the second intermediate sprint in Pomarance after Bonusi tries to shut him down by flicking his bike to the right. It doesn't work and Maestri has the full 10 points available in the intermediate sprints.
69km remaining from 228km
BMC is stringing it out as they're going through Pomarance. Caruso is the penultimate BMC rider in that line at the front of the bunch. The gap to the leaders went up to almost 4:30 but it's coming down again and stands at 4:07.
In the front group, Marangoni isn't too happy with something and he's waving his hand at something behind him. Perhaps one of the race vehicles has got a bit close.
No it looks like Marangoni has a puncture, he must have been waving for the team car. He gets a quick wheel chance and the mechanic gives him a shove. The Bardiani team car moves in front of him to allow him a brief slipstream.
The descents out on this loop are on nice smooth roads but they're twisting too and the peloton is pushing the limit in the chase. They've cut the gap to 3:40 in no time at all.
Disc brakes have been a bone of contention this season but more and more manufacturers are putting forward their disc options. Cannondale debuted their disc offering in the team time trial yesterday. It is ominously called the slice and you can see it here.
@PhotoSirotti Thu, 9th Mar 2017 13:50:07
60km remaining from 228km
BMC really has put the hammer down and with 60km to go the gap to the escapees is just 2:42. It's single file right now.
This break has been out since near enough the very start of the day. The legs must be a bit sore now, but they're still working relatively well together. How long before someone breaks ranks and tries to go it alone?
The riders are on the Volterra climb, a fairly steady ascent with a maximum gradient of eight per cent. BMC has dialled things back a bit to give the break a bit of breathing space.
Word coming through that Roger Kluge has abandoned. That's bad news for Caleb Ewan, who he has been working as lead-out man for.
This is what the riders are on at the moment.
All the GC riders sitting new the front. Nairo Quintana is right beside Caruso, possibly eyeing up the blue jersey. The Terminillo will be where he is likely to make an attempt on it. After the time trial, he is one of the best placed GC riders, after Tejay van Garderen.
54km remaining from 228km
2km until the top of the final GPM. Marangoni has snaffled up all the points so far but Androni look keen to make their mark.
Houle leads out the run for the GPM but Marangoni is quick to react. He doesn't pass the Canadian, he just lets him lead it out.
Ballerini then strikes out and it's the youngest of the escapees that takes the points and Marangoni has to settle for second. They're now equal on points so whoever finishes the stage first will take the jersey.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 9th Mar 2017 14:16:09
50km remaining from 228km
50km to go and just 2:10 between the two groups. Things are going to hot up now.
Peter Sagan is sitting near the back of the bunch. He had a bit of a gippy tummy during the first weekend of the classics and had to pull out of Strade Bianche because of illness. We'll have to wait and see if he's recovered from that today.
The breakaway riders are making trips back to their respective team cars. With just 2 minutes remaining of their lead they are probably getting a bit of advice.
41km remaining from 228km
A crash for Caleb Ewan but he's back on his way. Jurgen Van Den Broeck also goes down and he doesn't look as good. He's got plenty of grazes on his side.
As the song once said, it's the final countdown. Just 1:30 for the escapees now with 39km to go.
Confirmation that Jurgen Van Den Broeck has abandoned the race. He is the second rider to climb off today after Roger Kluge earlier on. Van Den Broeck took a pretty hefty tumble on a descent, although it's not exactly clear what caused it.
Still one climb to come for the riders as they pass through this valley. The top of the climb is just 14km away, and 22km before the finish. Will we see any of the peloton trying a cheeky attack?
One minute the gap now with 32km to go and there are a lot more teams present at the front of the peloton. Cannondale green is visible amongst the red of BMC.
31km remaining from 228km
The escape group is really trying to hold on and they're strung out but it's not having any impact on the gap. They've got 40 seconds left.
It looks like the breakaway won't get to the top of the final climb before the peloton reaches them. Trek-Segafredo, Quick-Step Floors, Cannondale and BMC all have riders up the front.
If the escapees can't make it to the top of the final climb ahead, which is highly likely, it will be down to countback to see who gets to wear the mountains jersey tomorrow.
26km remaining from 228km
The catch has been made in one fell swoop. Maestri is still on the front but the peloton has connected with the back of the break group.
Maestri didn't last long and the GC teams, with Team Sky joining in now and Dimension Data, are moving to the front.
Movistar and Bora are also up there. The latter will be looking for the stage win with Sagan as the former escapees drop off the back.
Filosi attacks the bunch for Nippo-Vini Fantini.
We hear that Ewan has called it a day. A bad day out for Orica-Scott who have lost two riders today.
Lots of movement at the front and Moscon, bandages and all, is one of two team Sky riders at the front. They have no GC intentions left after yesterday's debacle so this is probably for the stage win.
Rosa attacks off the front now with one of the Movistar riders in his wheel. They are shit down by Daniel Oss and his lustrous hair.
23km remaining from 228km
Oss is setting a very strong pace. He doesn't want the attacks but he can't stop Moscon and one of the Nippo riders jumping clear.
The Nippo rider is Hideto Nakane. He and Moscon have a reasonable gap for now but the peloton isn't panicking just yet.
7 seconds is the gap. Nippo need to think out of the box if they want to get something today. Sky also has not a lot to lose with Kwiatkowski back int he bunch.
22km remaining from 228km
FDJ thought the move too dangerous and they bring that back with the help of Movistar. BMC has cleared out and are letting the other teams do the work now.
Bahrain-Merida and Astana have also come to the fore. The descent is very tricky and all the GC teams want to make sure that their leader is safe and doesn't get caught behind any incidents.
Amador leads the bunch over the top of the final climb and the riders are onto this twisting descent with FDJ leading the way.
There is hardly a straight bit of road on this descent. The peloton is in single file behind FDJ. Pinot's descending is much better after his well known problems a few years ago.
16km remaining from 228km
The riders are down safe and sound, and the pace knocks off as the group spreads across the road. Kiryienka elbows his way forward and tries to put on the hurt again.
Kwiatkowski blasts past though and he's pulled out a small gap on this descent. He's taking no prisoners as he flies down.
Kwiatkowski rides like he's on rails on this stretch of road and few can actually keep with him. The camera bike is even struggling to stage ahead. Sweet relief as the road levels out briefly.
riders are having to frantically chase back on after that move. Kwiatkowski really put the bunch to the sword. He's moved back down the bunch now and Sutterlin takes over for Movistar. The bunch has been diminished quite significantly.
12km remaining from 228km
It's Kiryienka again on the front and riders are losing grip on the bunch all the time. The pace is hot and many are just having to get out of the kitchen.
@quickstepteam Thu, 9th Mar 2017 15:06:40
Nairo Quintana is very near the front. He's doing very well to keep up with this. Sutterlin has moved back to keep him out of the win.
Bora have been very quite for now but Sagan is in that group, about 30 riders back. He looks pretty comfortable for now.
8km remaining from 228km
Less than 10km to go now and Kiryienka is still pushing hard. He's got a mass of Quick-Step riders right behind him. The Belgian team has multiple options today.
The roads are narrow here and the riders in the bunch are having to work very hard to gain position.
Kiryienka peels off and Quick-Step put the hammer down. They've got four riders at the front, followed by Team Sky.
Sagan looks like he's struggling now. He goes backwards with that injection of pace. Looks like he might be out of contention.
6km remaining from 228km
Last year's winner in Pomarance, Stybar is doing a big effort on the front. It looks like they're working for Trentin at the moment. No sign of Gaviria.
Stybar pulls off and Trentin is working now, maybe he isn't their man. Jungels is in his wheel at the moment.
Edvald Boasson Hagen is moving up the bunch too. He's not got any teammates with him so it's going to have to be under his own steam for now.
Trentin is done and as he moves over Jungels strikes out. He's got Thomas in his wheel and Wellens.
5km remaining from 228km
Van Avermaet and Caruso have gone with Jungels. Quintana has to fight to bridge the gap and it all comes back together.
Thomas attacks now and Jungels follows him.
Castroviejo is right behind Jungels and Caruso makes it over too.
3km remaining from 228km
Thomas attacks again as Castroviejo looks over his shoulder at Jungels.
Morhic goes off the front of the peloton to try and bridge the gap.
Jungels is making the chase but Thomas is going strong. 3.2 to the finish.
2km remaining from 228km
The riders are on a flat section for now but the road will rise again. Thomas has 11 seconds on the bunch.
Sorry that time gap was to the chasers. The bunch is 24 seconds back.
1km remaining from 228km
Thomas has 1.6 to go. He looks tired but the line is ever so close.
The gap to the bunch is closing but he's almost at the flamme rouge. Just 18 seconds for Thomas and the pedal movements are becoming more square-like.
700m for Thomas
Thomas is out of the saddle as he drives to the line with 500m to go.
Thomas can see Dumoulin and then the peloton over his shoulder but it looks like he will take it.
Thomas wins stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Dumoulin crosses the line 9 seconds back with the peloton pretty much right behind him. He would have liked to take a bit more time on the other GC riders.
Plenty of congratulations for Thomas. That saves Sky's Tirreno-Adriatico somewhat after a disaster start yesterday.
In the end, the bunch was given the same time as Dumoulin so he didn't make any time after all that effort.
After looking in trouble, Sagan managed third in that finish. Here is the top 10 from today's stage.
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 5:51:44
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:09
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
7 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott
8 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
10 Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
As we suspected at the start of the day, Greg Van Avermaet moves into the race lead with that fourth place. Dennis sits in second place now after managing to finish in the top 10.
We didn't see him at all in that finale but Van Garderen managed to keep his nose clean and he sits in third place overall after today.
General classification after stage 2
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
It took a while to get going that stage but when it did it really sprung into life.
A great shot from the organisers of Thomas soloing to the finish. Sky really had to work hard for that but they pulled it off.
Our full report of today's action is available here along with a few photos. Full results will be available as soon as we get hold of them and, of course, we'll have plenty more photos too.
@TirrenAdriatico Thu, 9th Mar 2017 15:52:09
After all his efforts it looks like the king of the mountains jersey will be going to Ballerini and not Marangoni. Thomas takes the lead of the points classification after his win and Jungels is in the white jersey of the young rider classification.
With that we say goodbye. It's not for long though, be back here tomorrow so we can do this all over again! In the meantime, check out Cyclingnews.com for all the reaction from Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice.
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