2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 2 Preview
What happened on Stage 1
Orica-GreenEdge put on an impressive performance, winning the team time trial in Sanremo, just as it did in 2014, at Belfast. 34-year-old Simon Gerrans became the 7th Australian rider to wear the pink jersey, after Cadel Evans, Bradley McGee, Brett Lancaster, Robbie McEwen, Richie Porte and Michael Matthews. If Etixx-Quick Step came second last year, this time Tinkoff-Saxo was runner-up, which allowed Alberto Contador to gain time on all his rivals: Fabio Aru, Rigoberto Uran and Richie Porte.
What comes now
This first mass-start stage has a mainly level route, but features a wavier and more challenging profile in the first part, with the Testico climb just a few dozen kilometres from the start, followed by constant gentle undulations, and the “Capi” on the Aurelia road, along the coast of the Western Riviera. On their journey, the riders will also pass through Savona, the town in which Eddy Merckx was announced that he tested positive for the stimulant fencamfamine, at the 1969 Giro d’Italia.
The Pratozanino ascent (4th category) will be the first categorized climb of the 2015 Corsa Rosa, which means that there will be a big fight there between the riders in the breakaway, as the blue jersey automatically guarantees extra publicity. Then, after reaching Genova, the route takes the 9,5 km-long city circuit, which will be covered twice. The course runs through Piazza de Ferrari, then goes down to Piazza Brignole, where the road slowly starts to rise, up to Piazza Verdi. Here, a 1-km dash with a 4% gradient leads to Albaro, followed by a false-flat drag and the descent down into Boccadasse, where the route reaches the seafront. The course runs flat up to the last kilometre (completely straight), where the road climbs steadily, with gradients of around 2%.
Because of this, Michael Matthews is seen as one of the top favorites for Sunday. Not only that he enjoys a finish which isn’t pan-flat, but he has a very powerful team, which can control the bunch to perfection. There’s also the fact that Orica-GreenEdge likes to swap the leader’s jersey between its riders when it has the opportunity, so it could well be the case now. Returning to the race after five years, André Greipel will be another strong contender, although the German doesn’t have the best lead-out, with only Greg Henderson to help him. The Italians will hope Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo and Elia Viviani will be in the mix as well, ready to bring the home country an early victory, while Luka Mezgec and Juan Jose Lobato know they have a fair chance on this type of finish, and will look to prove they didn’t came here just to check a Grand Tour participation.
It will be for the 42nd time that Genova – the city of Niccolo Paganini and Christopher Columbus – will host a Giro d’Italia stage. The previous visit here was in 2004, when Bradley McGee won a 6,9 km-long prologue, ahead of Olaf Pollack and Yaroslav Popovych.