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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia stage 2: Simon Yates blitzes Budapest TT, Mathieu van der Poel defends pink

Overnight GC leader Van der Poel finishes second on the stage to retain maglia rosa.

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Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) blitzed the 9.2km Giro d’Italia time trial Saturday to get his GC challenge rolling in style.

Yates edged out a pink jersey-clad Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in the blast around Budapest. Van der Poel finished a very close second and did enough to defend his GC lead. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) placed third.

Van der Poel now holds an 11-second advantage in the fight for the pink jersey over BikeExchange captain Yates.

João Almeida (UAE Emirates), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) were among other GC contenders to clock top TTs and take gains in the classification, finishing eleventh, seventh and sixth respectively.

Yates put time into everyone however, including renowned specialists against the clock who would have hoped to have gained time over him today.

It’s his second career time trial win following a victory at the 2019 Paris-Nice, and he described it as “for sure my best!”

“Of course, I’m really happy. It’s a little bit unexpected, but I’ll take them as they come,” he said after the stage.

The 29-year-old looked genuinely surprised at the victory, laughing in disbelief when told in the post-race interview that he was also fastest on the flat opening section, posting the best time at an intermediate check prior to the finishing climb.

“I just tried to go as fast as possible. I have to thank our partners Giant and Cadex, we put a lot of work into our equipment this year. And of course it’s paying off.”

Yates posted his time just moments after Dumoulin smashed the previous benchmark of Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco) by eight seconds, a ride that initially looked as though it might be good enough to win.

Despite putting five seconds into Dumoulin, Yates wasn’t confident of victory, however, especially with Van der Poel still to ride.

“I was never confident,” he said. Van der Poel was close as well. But of course you always have that belief that you would win, and eventually I managed to hang on.”

Yates now sits perfectly poised within pink jersey range but without the burden of wearing the leader’s jersey.

“There’s some much more demanding stages to come,” Yates said. “We’ll enjoy today but keep looking at the bigger picture.”

In terms of the bigger picture, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) and Romain Bardet (DSM) were among the riders to impress, each finishing within 25 seconds of Yates, while Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) limited their losses to less than 35 seconds.

Worse off were Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana-Qazaqstan), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), who all lost over 40 seconds.

How it happened

It was a dry, warm day in Budapest, with conditions staying constant throughout the day to ensure a level playing field between the riders starting off early and starting off late.

Alex Dowsett set the benchmark figure early on, with a time that just about held off challenges from his Israel-PremierTech teammates Matthias Brandle and Alessandro De Marchi.

These Israel-PremierTech riders were soon ousted from the top spots by Jumbo-Visma riders, as first Jos van Emden and, almost immediately after, Edoardo Affini posted new fastest times.

As one of the pre-stage favorites, Affini’s time was expected to remain undefeated for a while, and possibly even for the whole day as the stage-winning time.

So it came as a surprise when Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) beat his time by three seconds, despite not being a recognized time trialist.

Kämna’s time proved to be very robust, too, with only Thymen Arensman (DSM) threatening it with a time within just one second, prior to the final flurry of riders at the top of GC.

The German’s long time in the hot seat eventually came to an end when Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco), resplendent in his national colors as Italian national time trial champion, smashed it by four seconds.

But Sobrero’s time was to be much more short-lived, as Dumoulin and then Yates posted their superior times.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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