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While Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) finished second and retained his maglia rosa, the long-term winner of the day was Yates. He put five seconds into former Giro winner Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) who briefly led the race until Yates came over the line less than a minute later.
Yates was fastest on the flat section of the 9.2km course and did enough on the 1.3km climb to the line, but while he sailed through the test several of his maglia rosa rivals had difficult days. Yates will probably appreciate the fact that even after his win he doesn’t have to control the race for at least another stage thanks to van der Poel’s second place.
Yates put in 17 valuable seconds on Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohë) and Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma), with João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) a somewhat disappointing 11th on the stage at 18 seconds adrift. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) finished at 24 and 26 seconds down, respectively, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) rolled back the years to only concede 19 seconds.
Pre-race favorite Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) was beaten by his teammates Ben Tulett, Pavel Sivakov and Richard Porte. The 2019 winner never looked comfortable on the course and gave up 28 seconds to Yates. Carapaz took four seconds on Yates on stage 1, with the gap between the pair now set at 24 seconds ahead of a sprint stage on 3 before a critical stage to Mount Etna on stage 4.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) lost even more time, with a deficit of 33 seconds on the stage, while Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Easy Post) lost 38 seconds. The biggest gap in terms of the GC riders was for Miguel Ángel López. The Colombian was destined to lose time on his least favorite terrain and the Astana leader lost 42 seconds.
Van der Poel leads the race after two stages with Yates jumping 22 places to second overall, at 11 seconds. Dumoulin sits at 16 seconds. The rest of the GC contenders are scattered within 40 seconds of the maglia rosa but Lopez at 53 seconds and Giulio Ciccone at 1:01 already have significant ground to make up.