The Italian came close to his maiden victory of the year.
Despite its many climbs, the opening day of the Tour de Wallonie was always touted as being one at the end of which the winner will emerge from a bunch sprint. A breakaway of four jumped clear soon after the start, putting five minutes between them and the peloton, led by a coalition of teams which included Soudal Quick-Step.
Jannik Steimle and Mauri Vansevenant laid down the watts at the front of the peloton, who began reducing the deficit in the second part of the 189.6km stage to Hamoir. After gradually increasing the tempo, the field brought back the escapees, the last of these being reeled on the final lap, with ten kilometers to go.
Following some great piloting of Florian Sénéchal, Davide Ballerini emerged near the front of the bunch, from where he sprinted to a strong second just behind Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) – his first podium of the season and an encouraging start to the five-day race.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images