Giro d’Italia 2021: Stage 2 – Merlier takes first sprint as the Giro remembers #WW108

Tim Merlier held his speed and his nerve in a chaotic sprint to give Giro debutantes Alpecin-Fenix their first podium, and claim his first GT victory and the GORGEOUS maglia ciclamino. The ‘fastest man in Belgium’ screamed to the front with 250m to go, holding off Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka ASSOS) and Cofidis’ Elia Viviani who had to settle for second and third respectively.  Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) retains the pink jersey, so the only other change in GC is the rise of Remco Evenepoel as he grabbed two seconds to put him on the same time as Deceuninck QuickStep teammate Joao Almeida. Looks like Patrick Lefevre’s comment of leaving this tussle to be settled on the road is coming true.

Slow ride to Novara

The road from Stupinigi to Novara seemed endless. One of those long, interminable stages where the peloton knew it was going to end in a sprint, so had to leave the break out front for as long as possible – no matter how slow they had to go. I will not dwell on the hours except to say CHAPEAU to Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa), who secured the King of the Mountains jersey


A chance to see the sprinters in action and get a feel for who may strut their stuff in the maglia ciclamino.

Oh my goodness that run to the line! NERVES OF STEEL and that was just to watch it!

In truth, if you were not in position after that corner, it was game over as Lotto-Soudal and their ace sprinter Caleb Ewan found out to their cost. There was some bumping and barging – looking at YOU, Peter Sagan.  

There was even an incident between Team UAE-Emirates teammates Fernando Gaviria and his lead-out man Sebastien Molano. 

In truth, Gaviria had taken himself out of contention by choosing to go to the inside when Merlier chose the open line in the middle. Thank goodness the new style safety barriers were in place, or we may have had a finishing crash no one wanted to see.

This must have been a nervous day for Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma),  without such a chaotic run to the line. However, the Dutchman was competitive at the finish and I’d expect to see him again.

As I would the seemingly eternal Grand Tour bridesmaid. Come on Giacomo, I know that win is coming!

Our winner Tim Merlier

The best sprinter at the Giro if we look at current form? Oh yes, I think so. His speed is unquestionable and the length of time he is able to hold it makes him hard to beat. On top of that, Alpecin-Fenix did their homework for this finish and it paid off. I am delighted for him and the team that is so much more than just the undoubted talent of Mathieu van der Poel.

Look at that GLORIOUS points jersey


It has been 10 years since the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt at the Giro, but cycling fans will never forget his name. I know I was not the only one moved when Tim crossed the line with his hands held up in a W. It is important to take time to remember his name, as it is for all the others who have lost their life doing what they loved best.

Please take a moment to look at these tributes from Trek-Segafredo, the present iteration of the team Wouter rode for.


Stage 1 Top 5

1 Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 4:21:09

2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka ASSOS) same time

3 Elia Viviani (Cofidis) s/t

4 Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) s/t

5 Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) s/t

GC Top 10

1 Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) 4:29:53

2  Eduardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) +0:13

3 Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) +0:16

4 Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck Quick Step) +20

5 Joao Almeida (Deceuninck Quick Step) +0.20

6 Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck Quick Step) +0.21

7 Jos van Emden (Jumbo Visma) +0:21

8 Maximilian Walscheid (Qhubeka Assos) +22

9 Matthias Brandle (Israel Start-up Nation) +25

10 Gianni Moscon (INEOS Grenadiers) +26

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers)

Points jersey Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)

King of the Mountains Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa)

Best Young Rider Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers)

For full race reviews, go to cyclingnews.

Official race website: Giro d’Italia

Header Image: @GETTY/AFP/Luca Bettini

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