German champion Pascal Ackermann made a dream Giro d’Italia debut when he timed his sprint to perfection to win the second stage, a 205-km ride from Bologna, on Sunday.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider just avoided French rider Olivier Le Gac crashing in front of him during the finale before out-sprinting Italian champion Elia Viviani and Australian Caled Ewan.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic retained the overall leader’s pink jersey after remaining in the peloton throughout a rainy day after the race left Emilia-Romagna for Tuscany.
Eight men broke away early on but the bunch always had them under control, reining them in shortly before the line to trigger a massive sprint.
“It was our first chance to win a stage and we did it straight,” Ackermann, who is making his grand tour debut, told reporters.
“We were super-motivated. It bodes well for the rest of the Giro.”
Roglic, who impressed in Saturday’s opening time trial, said: “It wasn’t an easy day because it was cold from the beginning and also quite fast all the time.
“It will be another day in the ‘Maglia Rosa’ tomorrow. The team worked hard for that. It’s a pleasure to retain the jersey.”
Irish rider Eddie Dunbar has had a solid start to his first Grand Tour, with the Corkman sitting 35th overall after the opening two stages. Dunbar was 42nd in Saturday’s eight kilometre time trial in Bologna, one minute and 14 seconds behind the stage winner Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma).
He then finished as part of the main bunch in the second stage. Dunbar was 99th and moved up to 35th overall, one minute and 14 seconds behind Roglic. Irish road race champion Conor Dunne (Israel Cycling Academy) is 167th overall.
Monday’s third stage will take the peloton over 220km from Vinci to Orbetello.