Giro d'Italia: Merlier claims sprint finish as Ganna retains GC lead

By Sports Desk May 09, 2021

Tim Merlier won Stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia as Filippo Ganna retained his place at the top of the General Classification standings.

Belgian Merlier executed a superb sprint to edge out Giacomo Nizzolo, 'the Bridesmaid of Milan', who has the most runner-up finishes in Giro history without ever winning a stage.

Elia Viviani, Dylan Groenewegen and Peter Sagan rounded out the top five following the 179km ride from Stupinigi (Nichelino) to Novara on Sunday.

Merlier kicked with around 250 metres to go and held his nerve, while Fernando Gaviria collided with UAE Team Emirates colleague Juan Sebastian Molano as he tried to squeeze through by the barriers.

"I'm really happy, really proud of it," Merlier said after clinching a first Grand Tour stage win. "I knew there was a roundabout that was really important in the end. When I saw it I knew I was in a good position. When I came out I was thinking, 'We need to go faster, faster, faster.'

"I was in an altitude camp together with my girlfriend and then I came here. It paid off."

Ganna, who leads the GC by 13 seconds, felt it was important to strengthen his position before Monday's more arduous ride from Biella to Canale.

"I did the time bonus sprint just to take the bonification away from the others, thinking of the coming days if Egan [Bernal] or Pavel [Sivakov] are fighting for the Maglia Rosa," he said.

"I saw Remco [Evenepoel] was trying to go for it, too. But Gianni [Moscon] and myself did a good job. I enjoyed hearing the crowd of Piedmont yelling my name today. We know tomorrow is a perfect stage for Peter Sagan."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 4:21:09
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) same time
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) same time
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) same time
5. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:29:53
2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
3. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +00:16

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 50
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 35
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 30

King of the Mountains

1. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) 3
2. Filippo Tagliani (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 2
3. Umberto Marengo (Bardiani CSF Faizane) 1

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  • Bernal targeting Vuelta a Espana  glory after winning Giro d'Italia Bernal targeting Vuelta a Espana glory after winning Giro d'Italia

    Egan Bernal hopes to complete a Grand Tour clean sweep at the Vuelta a Espana after winning the Giro d'Italia.

    The INEOS Grenadiers rider sealed a first Giro title in Milan on Sunday, winning by a margin of a minute and 29 seconds.

    Bernal will not go in search of a second Tour de France crown this year, but is eyeing a maiden Vuelta success in a race that will start on August 14.

    The Colombian told Semana TV: "Yes, the Vuelta. Right now, I don't want to think about one month training and being away from home, but I like to race, and I like to prepare, to do things well, so I know I will have the motivation to go to the Vuelta and do it well.

    "We're looking at the Vuelta. I can't just sit at home and do nothing."

    Bernal said he has matured since winning the Tour two years ago.

    "I've lived a lot of things, not just in sport but at the personal level as well," he added.

    "Things are changing, and I am more mature. I won the Tour at 22, and that's not easy. I obviously had a lot to learn, and I still do. I've changed a lot since I was 22, and the Egan at 22 is very different than the Egan of today.

    "I don't think I could have won this Giro if I had faced the same situation at 22. I'm only 24 now, so I am not that old, but a lot of things have happened since then, and it helped me to win this Giro. I was surrounded by good people with a lot of experience."

  • Giro d'Italia: Bernal seals second Grand Tour title Giro d'Italia: Bernal seals second Grand Tour title

    Egan Bernal wrapped up victory in the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, showing consummate composure in the final stage on the road to Milan.

    INEOS Grenadiers rider Bernal, who had finished second behind Damiano Caruso in the penultimate stage, was a favourite heading into this year's race and the 24-year-old duly delivered having worn the maglia rosa since stage nine.

    He sealed an impressive general classification victory by one minute and 29 seconds.

    Bernal, now a two-time Grand Tour champion after a successful Tour de France in 2019, needed to keep his cool in Sunday's closing time trial.

    He began the 30.3-kilometre test from Senago with a 1:59 minute lead over Caruso, who celebrated his maiden Grand Tour stage win on Saturday, but Bernal only gave up 30 seconds in a closing stage that was won by his team-mate and reigning time trial world champion Filippo Ganna.

    Ganna beat Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) by 12 seconds, despite needing to change his bike mid-race.

    Cavagna was hindered by a crash on the final bend, with the Frenchman losing control and flying over his handlebars, and despite being back on the bike within 10 seconds, it was a mistake which handed Ganna a second stage win of the Giro.

    But the glory was all Bernal's, the Colombian able to take his time on the final stretch as he celebrated a supreme display over the three-week event.

    It is INEOS' second successive victory at the Giro, following Tao Geoghegan Hart's triumph last year.

    Simon Yates, another pre-race favourite, finished in third place in the general classification, 4:15 back from Bernal, who is going from strength to strength.

    "The maglia rosa is special. It's the most beautiful race in the world's most beautiful place," Bernal told reporters.

    "I'll never forget this Giro, how I won my first ever stage and the way I won it, with attacks and sprinting on the flat for bonus seconds against Remco Evenepoel. That's who I am and the cycling I like.

    "In this race I found the freedom to race as I like to do. So winning in this final time trial is special.

    "I was just focused on my effort and was just thinking I can't do a mistake, I didn't want to lose the Giro in one corner. I was starting to push in the parts where I could push, but in the corners, don't take any risks.

    "It was special, [seeing] a lot of Colombian flags everywhere and all the people cheering for me. When I finished and realised I won, it was an incredible feeling. I can't describe what I'm feeling."

    STAGE RESULT

    1. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:33:48
    2. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +00:12
    3. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +00:13
    4. Matteo Sobrero (Astana) +00:14
    5. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +00:27

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 86:17:28
    2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +01:29
    3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +04:15

    Points Classification

    1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 136
    2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 118
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 116

    King of the Mountains

    1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen) 184
    2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 140
    3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 99

  • Giro d'Italia: Bernal on the brink of glory as Caruso wins penultimate stage Giro d'Italia: Bernal on the brink of glory as Caruso wins penultimate stage

    Egan Bernal must hold his nerve in Sunday's closing time trial to win the Giro d'Italia after following Damiano Caruso across the finish line on the penultimate stage.

    Colombian Bernal, winner of the 2019 Tour de France, stands on the brink of another famous triumph. The 30.3-kilometre time trial from Senago to the Piazza Duomo is the final frontier in his mission, and Bernal will set out with a lead of one minute and 59 seconds.

    Caruso had the glory of a first individual Grand Tour stage win in his career on Saturday, delighting the Italian crowd, and there is every chance he will finish on the general classification podium.

    Simon Yates had applied pressure with a stage win on Friday, but the Englishman trails Bernal by three minutes and 23 after crossing the line in sixth place.

    Bernal put in a mighty ride on a devilishly mountainous stage, helped along most notably by compatriot and INEOS Grenadiers team-mate Dani Martinez.

    Caruso made a bold move with 6.5km remaining, as he and Romain Bardet attacked and left Pello Bilbao trailing, the front pair opening up a lead of over 30 seconds

    Martinez pushed hard and Bernal went with him in the maglia rosa group behind the leaders during the taxing climb to the finish.

    Bardet fell away from Caruso with two kilometres remaining as the gradient reached 13 per cent, his legs giving up on the prospect of a stage win, allowing Bernal and Martinez to surge past and take second and third place respectively.

    Caruso finished 24 seconds clear of Bernal, and a time bonus saw him narrow his gap to the overall leader by 30 seconds overall, tightening his hold on second place in the Giro.

    Riding in the rain and mist at times and through snow-covered valleys as the race passed through the Swiss Alps, Saturday's 164-kilometre ride from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta was designed to provide an exacting test for the riders who had put themselves in place to take glory in Milan.

    Bernal and Caruso showed they have the steel, but the maglia rosa remains in Colombian hands.

    Bernal said on British Eurosport: "I am satisfied with the result. I think we managed well the situation. We have two minutes in advantage for tomorrow's time trial so I think we are in a good position.

    "It's not the best to have the [rider ranked] second in the GC [general classification] in front of you, and almost one minute in front of you.

    "But I had three team-mates and I tried to use them and finish as fresh as possible in the final climb and also for tomorrow.

    "We did well, we managed the situation, but it was difficult."


    STAGE RESULT

    1. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 4:27:53
    2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:24
    3. Dani Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers) +00:35
    4. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) +00:35
    5. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) +00:41

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 85:41:47
    2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +01:59
    3. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +03:23

    Points Classification

    1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 136
    2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 118
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Emirates) 116

    King of the Mountains

    1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 184
    2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 140
    3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 99

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