Well, no surprises here. Mathieu Van Der Poel is the first pink jersey of the 2022 Giro d’Italia.
The race unfolded pretty much as predicted. An early breakaway was caught with just under 15km to the checkered flag as the peloton rolled up to the final climb. There some riders tried their luck, with Leonard Kamna and Davide Formolo as the most notable ones. The latter’s attack was later joined by the favorites, already inside the final kilometer. Somewhat surprisingly (to me, at least), Caleb Ewan was among those favorites who caught up to the Italian.
Van Der Poel chose Biniam Girmay’s wheel and, inside of the final 100 meters, predictably overtook the Eritrean to claim the first pink jersey of his career. By that point it was clear Ewan was losing gas and bumped into Girmay back wheel which caused him to crash. He got up reasonably quickly so let’s hope the Australian’s Giro doesn’t finish like last year’s Tour.
An interesting tidbit from the finish is the 4 second difference apparently being enforced between the first “group” and the second. Pello Bilbao (3rd) Richard Carapaz (6th) and Wilco Kelderman (5th) are the main beneficiaries of this, given that they were the only general classification (GC) contenders that got the first group’s time. While there is certainly a gap between the first 8 riders and the 9th there is also a similar gap between Girmay (2nd) and Bilbao. A gap that hasn’t been officially recognized. João Almeida (14th) and Simon Yates (24th) are the biggest GC contenders penalized by this double standard.
Stage 2 Preview
A 9.2km time trial ending in a 1.3km climb at 4.9%. Seconds won or lost here might be decisive at the end of the Giro but, for now, it shouldn’t make big differences. At 9km this can barely be called a time trial. I’m a huge fan of this discipline but I concede that the TV audience don’t share my excitement. I just don’t understand why they didn’t just have a big time trial instead of two ridiculously short ones. I’m sure the parcours was defined by people much smarter than me so I’m sure there’s a reason but right now I can’t come up with anything. Anything that would justify burning a real stage in favor of this.
Anyway, from the favorites we should definitely look to Olympic silver medalist Tom Dumoulin and João Almeida. They are far and away the best time trialists amongst the main GC contenders. Still in terms of GC but more on the outsider level, Thymen Arensman and Tobias Foss are two young riders that will likely be near the top tomorrow.
With the absence of Filippo Ganna the stage win tomorrow is up for grabs. Dumoulin’s teammate, Edoardo Affini was 2nd and 3rd in the two time trials of the 2021 Giro, hence has a good shot at the win tomorrow.
The time trialing field isn’t deep in the 2022 Giro. Can’t understand why with the massive 26km (!!!!) of solo effort in this year’s edition. My outside pick for tomorrow is the pink jersey himself Mathieu Van Der Poel. We all saw how he defended his yellow jersey in a 27km time trial in last year’s Tour so he can certainly pull off a similar performance tomorrow to keep (or perhaps even enhance) his lead in the GC.