In a finish tailor-made for Peter Sagan, Diego Ulissi took his seventh career stage win in the Giro d’Italia afer outsprinting the former world champion.
The final 4 kilometers were uphill at an average gradient of 5% with one short stretch at 9% placed 2.5 kilometers from the finish.
An early breakaway of five riders gained an advantage of nearly five minutes on the main pack, with breakaway rider Thomas De Gendt winning all three of the intermediate sprints.
Ganna’s and Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers team led the chase and caught the breakaway with just under 10 kilometers to go.
Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) withdrew midway through the stage due to stomach sickness. Vlasov had been seen as a possible overall contender behind Astana captain Jakob Fuglsang, who struggled in the opening time trial.
It’s been a rough start for Astana, which also had Miguel Angel Lopez crash out during the time trial.
”I noticed that we were climbing too slowly so I told Conti to accelerate and try to make it tough to tire out the sprinters,” Ulissi said. ”We were perfect. When you’re able to beat the strongest riders it’s really extraordinary.”
Filippo Ganna held onto the pink jersey he grabbed by winning the opening time trial in Palermo.
Mikkel Honore crossed third with the same time as Ulissi and Sagan, while Ganna and the other overall favorites finished in the main pack five seconds behind.
Ganna remained 22 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida, while Geraint Thomas moved up from fourth to third, 23 seconds behind.
The race should heat up Monday when stage 3 takes the peloton up the Mount Etna volcano after a 150-kilometer route from Enna.