Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 2 Preview

By David Hunter

Arnhem – Nijmegen 190km

Will the wind blow?

giro 2

We are in Holland, so flat days are expected. We have a categorised climb, someone will be taking a trip to the podium, at the end of the stage. It is 1.1km at 6.7%, so nothing for the bunch to worry about.

giro 2a

Once into Nijmegen, the riders complete two laps of an 8.6km circuit. The circuit isn’t technical, just a big circle.

The Finish

giro 2b

The lazy right-hand turn will make the finish tricky. It’s never easy when you cannot see the finishing line, and the riders won’t see it until 350m to go. Hugging the inside of the corner will be wise, forcing others to go the long way round. It’s an easy finish, but it could get messy.

Weather

Looks like being a nice sunny day. The wind is coming from the south-east, making it a cross/headwind as the riders head for Nijmegen. It looks unlikely that we’ll see any echelons.

Contenders

Marcel Kittel – the fastest man here. His sprint train is impressive: Jungels, Wisniowski, Trentin and Sabatini. They took an excellent win in Romandie and the German will be full of confidence after a good season to date. He has taken 8 wins already in 2016. The “weak” link is Sabatini, he isn’t as fast as some other final men, but against this field, he should still be good enough.

Sprint train rating – 7 out of 10.

Andre Greipel – looks the opposite to Kittel just now. Has really struggled with injury and certainly wasn’t impressive in Turkey. His train is not as good as usual: Bak, Hansen, De Bie, Ligthart, Roelandts. Bak is very experienced and will play a vital role, but Hansen is not the fastest at number 3. If Lotto do hit the front, they run the risk of being swamped by the other teams. Greipel has 3 wins in 2016, 2 of them were back in Mallorca.

Sprint train rating – 5 out of 10.

Elia Viviani – the Italian loves to spring a surprise! He did it here in 2015 and will hope to do it again. A Viviani win really is impressive, considering he has to look after himself. With Sky focused on the GC, he might be get Knees to help position him with 2km remaining, but then it’s all down to the Italian. He really is good at following the right wheel, something that is very difficult. He only has 2 wins in 2016, but he has beaten Kittel, Nizzolo and Modolo in those races.

Sprint train rating – 0 out of 10.

Sacha Modolo – after mastering the 2 man train, Lampre are now trying to perfect the 1 man train! This means Ferrari must keep Modolo around 10th wheel in the final 2km, before making a move to hit the front with 500m to go. They managed to do it well in Turkey, where Modolo took 2 wins. Doing it in Turkey is one thing, but that tactic is very difficult to execute in a grand tour.

Sprint train rating – 2 out of 10.

Giacomo Nizzolo – winner of the blue jersey in 2015, despite not taking a win. He tasted his first success of 2016 just a couple of weeks ago, in Croatia. It might not have been the biggest race, but he did beat Cavendish and Pelucchi. I think they will go with Cancellara, Alafaci and Van Poppel. Without sounding great, the final two men are the same as in 2015. Cancellara will obviously be able to put down some serious watts, as we approach the final few kilometres.

Sprint train rating – 4 out of 10.

Arnaud Demare – after a tremendous early season, the Frenchman arrives with no pressure. It will be interesting to see how they line up their train, but I think it will be Sarreau, Konovalovas and Delage. This is tried and trusted, helping him to a stage win in La Med, this season, but it’s not great compared to the other teams.

Sprint train rating – 3 out of 10.

Matteo Pelucchi – the enigma that is Pelucchi. Has been carrying too much weight this season, but his performance in Croatia did suggest he was getting back to his best. He is seriously quick and IAM have a proper lead out train. I’m unsure what role Haussler will play, but I would go Stake Laengen, Kluge, Haussler and Howard. This is quick, really quick.

Sprint train rating – 6 out of 10.

Caleb Ewan – the wee Aussie already has a grand tour win to his name. That was in the 2015 Vuelta, where Orica had Docker leading him out. This time he is lacking support, probably just Bewley and Mezgec. He didn’t go well in the Tour of Yorkshire, and he’ll find it hard in the big bunch sprints here. Don’t get me wrong, he is super fast, but at the TDU he had Impey and co.

Sprint train rating – 3 out of 10.

Nikias Arndt – not a serious option in the big sprints, especially as Giant will need to commit riders to defending the pink jersey. He is a power sprinter, one that rarely leaves his saddle. He will look to challenge on harder stages, but should still give it a go here. His sprint train is still left over from the Kittel days, so it’s not bad. We saw this in the Tour of Yorkshire, but he wasn’t able to finish it off. I think they will go Timmer, Stamsnijder and De Backer.

Sprint train rating – 4 out of 10

Moreno Hofland – another sprinter that I find frustrating. He has the speed to do well, but frequently fails. His Jumbo bosses must be getting close to looking towards other riders. This race has huge importance for Hofland and his future. With Jumbo focused on Kruijswijk, I don’t think he’ll have many men to support him, maybe just Battaglin.

Sprint train rating – 1 out of 10.

Jakub Mareczko – another rising star of sprinting. After dominating smaller races in 2015, he has taken a step forward in 2016 with stage wins in San Luis, Langkawi, Coppi Bartali and Turkey. Southeast really seemed to get the train working well in Turkey, but that was in a seriously poor race. How they match up to the big guns will be interesting. I think they should go with Pozzato, Bertazzo and Belletti.

Sprint train rating – 3 out of 10.

Prediction Time

Big sprint, Kittel wins.

David Hunter

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