Stage 2 provided the GC riders a good opportunity to test their legs before the week-end's summit finish.
A wavy and undulating parcours – the longest at this edition (229 kilometers) – was in store for the riders who lined out in Lido di Camaiore, at the start of the second day in Tirreno-Adriatico. Despite the distance the peloton had to cover, only the last nine kilometers were all that mattered, as they featured a climb alternating 16% slopes with 4% gradients in the second part.
Pomarance, the arrival town, was known by Quick-Step Floors from the past edition, when Zdenek Stybar triumphed following a daring attack with three kilometers to go. This time, the Czech rider led the way onto the climb and set a high tempo on the slopes to Pomarance, together with teammates Fernando Gaviria and Matteo Trentin, before Bob Jungels unleashed a powerful acceleration, forcing an important selection.
Only race leader Damiano Caruso (BMC), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) responded, and the quartet quickly established a substantial lead on the peloton. Inside the final four kilometers, the Welshman attacked and got a gap; behind, Bob chased hard, trying to keep his opponent within reach, but as the others weren't willing to commit, they got reeled in by the peloton. The stage honors went to Thomas, who won ahead of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) became the new GC leader.
For his part, Bob Jungels got rewarded with the white jersey – which he took home at the previous edition – and moved to sixth in the overall standings, same time as teammate Niki Terpstra, who sits in fifth place. For the 24-year-old Luxembourger, leading the young rider classification is becoming a habit in Italy, a country in which he won the white jersey last year at both Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro d'Italia.
"Our plan was to do something. I felt good and the guys did a great job on the last climb. Once Matteo stopped pulling, I tried something and was joined by three riders. When Geraint went, I chased him at first, but it wasn't up to me to take Caruso and Castroviejo to the front", said Bob after his attempted coup on stage 2. "This is why I love this team so much, because we race aggressively all the time; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but we are always there. Today's display was a good sign for the next stages and taking the white jersey again here in Italy makes me happy."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele