PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : GIRO’16 St.2: Marcel By Miles

Giro d'Italia
GIRO’16 St.2: Marcel By Miles
Race Report: Marcel Kittel well and truly put his dreadful 2015 season to bed with a stunning victory on the second stage of the 2016 Giro. Jumping from third wheel and simply motoring past the leaders, he was free and clear with plenty of time to power-pose his huge self across the line for a win that's been a long time coming.



***ATTENTION CANADIAN Readers: Watch the 2016 Giro live and on demand in Canada on Cycling.TV

We started the stage in Arnheim in perfect conditions, the temperature was high and the wind was low, and the stage was conducted at a leisurely pace for virtually the entirety of its 190km length. The first break attempt stuck and Maarten Tjallingii, Omar Fraile and Giacomo Berlato found themselves up the road with an advantage that quickly flew up beyond the ten minute mark. They were gradually brought back but not before Fraile took the one climb of the day and the blue KOM jersey for tomorrow. They were caught shortly after the climb but Berlato decided to animate the final 20km and he struck out alone for 10km until the Giant-Alpecin led peloton brought him back. Etixx-Quick Step mistimed their leadout and they were swamped by FDJ but Kittel showed just how good he is this year to take his ninth win of the year by a huge margin. He's now just one second behind Tom Dumoulin and the pink jersey.

If the massive crowds turning out to see this Giro are any indication, the Dutch love this race.

We remain in the Netherlands for stage 2 of the 2016 Giro. Last time we had a stage 2 of a Grand Tour starting in the Netherlands it was one of the best days racing of 2015. That stage, of course, was the stage to Zelande in the Tour last year where crosswinds destroyed the peloton and ended the GC hopes of a handful of favourites before they'd even seen the mountains. This year the wind shouldn't be as much of an issue, we're about as far away from the sea as you can get in the Netherlands.



The riders will set off from Arnheim and finish just 20km to the south in Nijmegen. However, before they hit the finish line they will have taken in 190km of Dutch countryside. The route headed due north before looping back round to the south to the town of Tiel, where they crossed the Waal river, which Nijmegen sits on, and made their way east towards the finish. Just 35km before the finish we have the category four Berg En Dal climb which tops out at just 96m. Incidentally, 9km earlier the climb would be hit from the south side, the top from this direction marked a sprint point. The riders entered the finish at 162km but they were then sent north again for two 8.6km final circuits before the likely sprint finish.

Giro d'Italia 2016. ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Marcel Kittel looked cool at sign on.

Operation Market Garden
The town of Arnheim is famous for a Second World War plot by the allies to end the fighting by December 1944. The idea was to take control of the Ruhr, the centre of Nazi Germany's industrial operations. To do this they dropped a number of troops near Arnheim with a plan to take control of a number of the bridges that span the Rhein, the Waal is a tributary of that river. The plan was ultimately unsuccessful and the hope of ending the war by Christmas was dashed.

Just 72 years later though and the 198 riders who started yesterday are all present for the flat run through the central Netherlands. Maglia Rosa, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) will enjoy his trip through his home country despite Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) sitting just two hundredths of a second behind him.

The first attack of the race was a successful one as Omar Fraile (Dimenson Data), Giacomo Berlato (Nippo Vini Fantini) and Maarten Tjallingi (LottoNL-Jumbo) soon built a lead of 2.30. But as the peloton eased off further their gap grew out significantly to almost seven minutes. The lead of the peloton was shared by Giant-Alpecin and Etixx-Quick Step, who had Marcel Kittel, a favourite for the sprint finish. The pace was not high though and they were content to let the leading trio stretch their lead beyond the ten minute mark. The average speed was a fairly sedate 42kmh as they made their way into the final 100km. This proved to be point for the peloton to get serious and they quickly dragged the break back towards the seven minute mark.

As the break trundled along towards the finish it seemed apt to look at who these three escapees were. Maarten Tjallingii is riding his last ever Grand Tour, he will retire after the Dutch National Championships, he's taken three professional victories in his 12 year career but his best result is a podium place in the 2011 Paris-Roubaix. Omar Fraile, won the Vuelta King of the Mountains last year with Caja Rural. He took the jersey on the third stage and never gave it up. Giacomo Berlato is the youngest man in the break at 24 and he is in his second year with Nippo Vini Fantini. He came into the race without a professional win.


The Road East
It was a very easy day so far as the peloton made the turn towards the east and the finish of Nijmegen. The first point of interest was a slight sidewind which hit on one of the more exposed parts of the course as they passed through the feedzone. It wasn't enough to cause any issues in the peloton and they continued their gentle chase of the break, who were now 5.30 ahead still 30km away from the king of the mountains point.

The weather was perfect for the riders, the temperature was in the mid 20s and there was barely a breath of wind to move the numerous roadside windmills. the gap to the break continued its downward trajectory however as they ploughed along through the beautiful, if flat, terrain. The front of the peloton was stacked with teams as Astana, Movistar and Cannondale tried to keep their GC contenders away from any incidents. Orica-GreenEDGE and Etixx-Quick Step had also thrown men forwards, their aim was to keep Caleb Ewan and Marcel Kittel near the front for the inevitable sprint finish. The pace hadn't increased significantly but it was enough to keep pulling down the break's lead and they were now within five minutes of the peloton.

The first sprint of the day, Malden 55km to go, was won by Tjallingii in an uncontested ride through. The race for fourth was contested though and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo), last year's points jersey winner, took the victory ahead of Sacha Modolo (Lampre) and Elia Viviani (Sky). There was now just 10km before the next sprint, situated on top of the climb that would be categorised when the riders took it on from the north side, 8km further along. Tjallingi was again allowed to drift through the intermediate sprint in first place. Nizzolo was again fourth place on the long uphill drag, beating Viviani once again.


The Road Home
The riders were enjoying a brief sojourn into Germany before they looped back round for the second ascent of the Berg En Dal hillock. This climb would be contested as whoever won on here would exit the break knowing that they would be wearing the blue jersey on the podium tonight and the stage tomorrow.

Tjallingii led onto the climb but soon the leading trio were side by side riding up the 1.1km climb. Fraile was the first to increase the pace but the Dutchman was able to follow him initially, as the Spaniard continued his acceleration and it was game over for the other two as last year's Vuelta king of the mountain winner eased his way into the first blue jersey of 2016. Behind, the peloton were able to top the climb without any issues and they started the descent with less than a three minute gap to the trio.

The climb seemed to be goal for the leading three and they were very happy to just sit up once they'd crested it. For Tjallingii this was acting like a long goodbye to his Dutch fans as he sat up and waved at them. The first pass through Nijmegen introduced the riders to the numerous pieces of road furniture that exist on Dutch roads. There was a crash at the back of the peloton which effected Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal) and Andre Cardoso (Cannondale) the most, however they were both able to get back on and chase the gradual speeding up peloton.

The peloton brought back two of the break but Berlato decided to jump clear and he was alone with 17km left to ride and a 57 second advantage. Tjallingii had taken the two sprints and Fraile had won the king of the mountains jersey so Berlato was in search of the most aggressive rider award as he powered his way around the first of the two finishing laps.

No team had fully taken over the front of the peloton with just 13km, Giant-Alpecin were still doing plenty of work but, strangely, Etixx-Quick Step had taken a back seat on the first of two loops. Berlato remained in the lead but he had just 40 seconds and was showing the effort of being in the lead for so long. With just 10km left to ride you would expect the peloton to be strung out in an arrowhead formation but not here, no one had taken up the workload but still, Berlato was within sight and would be caught just before the bell lap began.

The riders were on the final lap but there was no sign of the big favourites for the day, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) or Kittel. Instead, the work was taken up by LottoNL-Jumbo for their sprinter, Moreno Hofland, and Cannondale to keep Rigoberto Uran away from trouble. With 4km to go it was our first chance to see Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and his team hit the front, still, there were more GC teams represented than sprinter's teams. 3km to go and FDJ had a full leadout at the front, Etixx were still nowhere to be seen but Lotto-Soudal, Greipel's team, were starting to edge towards the front.

The perfectly ordered front of the peloton was now shattered as Bob Jungels (Trek-Segafredo) hit the front. Kittel was still a long way from the front. Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) was also near the front but he only had one leadout man. With just 1km to go it was all Etixx, Kittel had found himself in fourth place but they were suddenly swamped by the FDJ train. Fabio Sabatini (Etixx-Quick Step) was able to disrupt their train and Demare was delivered too soon. Kittel jumped from third wheel and accelerated past to win by a huge gap ahead of the Frenchman. Sacha Modolo was in third but really, there was no one even close to the German in the sprint finish. He gets his Giro off to the perfect start, he has now raced three road stages in the Giro, he's won them all.

After the race, Marcel Kittel said: “I don’t have the strongest team to lead me out but with the confidence they have in me and their strength, my team-mates guided me through the middle of the peloton when other teams like FDJ took other options on the left side of the road and we took advantage of them. Before starting the Giro in The Netherlands, I didn’t visualise what it could be like, so it’s a surprise to have so many fans making it special to win in such a great atmosphere. It was also a nice surprise to see my girlfriend at the finish. This morning I congratulated my former team-mates [of Giant-Alpecin] for the pink jersey that could become mine tomorrow but I don’t want to think about it. I just want to focus on another bunch sprint that will be very fast as well. It’ll suit me again and my confidence is very high now.”

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Results: Giro d'Italia 2016 Stage 2
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step 4:38:31
2. Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
4. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5. Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
6. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
7. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
9. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
10. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo

Overall after stage 2
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 4:49:34
2. Primož Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:01
4. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:00:06
5. Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:08
6. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:12
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:13
8. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:00:14
9. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:16
10. Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling


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