Three things that stood out on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia: Déjà vu for Mathieu van der Poel and Caleb Ewan

Mathieu van der Poel celebrated his 39th professional victory in Visegrád and, after wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France last July, also wore the pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia for the first time.

Caleb Ewan also experienced the Tour déjà vu as he fell on the final meters of the sprint for victory – thankfully not quite as bad as he did in Pontivy.

Overall, the opening phase in Hungary showed why it seems more interesting to start a three-week tour with a prologue.

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The fact that all the professionals from the start only focused on the last five kilometers from Visegrád, paralyzed races on the 190 kilometers before that.

Three things that stood out at the Giro opening:

1. In the end, the watts in the legs count

“Three times in the washing machine and eventually the favorite wins.” So described Eurosport expert and ex-professional Rolf Aldag the final of the opening stage in Hungary – and pretty much hit the nail on the head.

For as much as it went wrong up to the Citadel Visegrád with attacks like Lennard Kämnas and advances from overall winning candidates like João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) or Wilco Kelderman (Bora-hansgrohe) shortly after – eventually it came to the expected triathlon between Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix), Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), who ended up with a fall for the latter and the pink jersey for the former. .

Giro analysis: thrown through three times and eventually wins the favorite

Once again, it became clear: For longer upward arrivals, where the positioning from the inflow can still be corrected on the mountain, the most important watt is in the legs. And since it was not extremely steep to walk up to the citadel, the body weight did not matter so much. The most explosive riders who were able to climb a hill well were at the top of the podium.

2. Ewan realizes: Danger lurks every second

Almost nothing happened in 190 kilometers on this first Giro stage, but it got hectic in the final and there were several falls: seven kilometers before the end, the Belgian climbing talent Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto Soudal) was on the ground and eventually lost nine minutes and all chances in the overall position. Other riders were hit on the final climb, and in the sprint to today’s victory, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) fell.

Almost like the 2021 Tour: Ewan crashes in the sprint for victory

The Australian’s fall was reminiscent of what took him out of the Tour de France in Pontivy last year: Ewan touched an opponent – this time Biniam Girmay’s rear wheel – and it crashed on the very last meters. But the consequences should be less serious this time. Ewan did not need to be driven to the ambulance but ran to the finish line and is back at the start Saturday.

Nevertheless, it was shown once again: anything can be over at any second on a Grand Tour.

Save energy – three weeks is a long time

There are days on big trips where the battle over 50 kilometers is intense to see who can break into today’s breakaway group. That was definitely not the case in and around Budapest: Mattia Bais and Filippo Tagliani from the 2nd division team Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli drove away immediately after the starting pistol and were really surprised that no one wanted to go with them.

It was clear: On the opening day, the stage victory would not go to an outburst because the fast-paced men’s teams would all work together toward a mass finish to conquer the first pink jersey. Therefore, the main draw took it easy at first.

After about 30 kilometers, the duo was already 10:30 minutes ahead through Hungary. Around the middle of the race, the peloton briefly tensed the muscles and reduced the gap to three minutes to then be able to close the hole very slowly and calmly. Without haste, it came together 14 kilometers before the end.

With the exception of Bais and Tagliani, no one wanted to waste too much energy on the Danube with three tough weeks with the Giro d’Italia ahead of them.

You may also be interested in: Voigt exclusively: These are my four Giro favorites

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