Mathieu van der Poel prevailed in the chaotic sprint of Friday’s first stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia to pull on the race’s first pink jersey. He also led the Tour de France last year after victory in Stage 2. Friday’s opener took place in Hungary, the first of three days in the natioin before a transfer to Italy. All three 2022 Grand Tours start in a foreign country, with the Tour de France kicking off in Denmark and the Vuelta a España beginning in the Netherlands.
After leaving Budapest, the peloton headed up the Danube to engage in a big-ring scrap on the 5.5 km, 4.2 percent climb to the royal castle atop Visegrád.
Are you ready? 😃#Giro kicks off today with a 195km stage from Budapest, the capital of Hungary and the former twin capital of The Dual Monarchy.
From there, the riders will travel north of Budapest to the town of Visegrad, for a punchy finish. pic.twitter.com/0k62OISnpb
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) May 6, 2022
The 105th Giro’s first breakaway consisted of a couple of fellows from wildcard team Drone Hopper-Androni Giocatolli. They flew their flag for most of the day and yanked out a 11:00 gap at one point.
First break | Prima fuga:
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 6, 2022
Van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix, EF Education-Easypost and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux did the work at the pointy end of the peloton and the Drone Hoppers were scooped up with 14 km to ride.
The teams gathered in their colour blocks and hammered towards the corner leading into the climb, where Lotto-Soudal led the way. Alpecin-Fenix grabbed the reins. AG2R Citroën’s Lawrence Naesen attacked with 3.5 km to go. Lennard Kämna jumped out from the peloton and flew past Naesen, with a 5-second lead by the red kite.
Davide Formolo went as soon as Kämna was reabsorbed. The front of the reduced bunch reformed. Caleb Ewan was still there for the final sprint but he crashed when he touched Biniam Girmay’s back wheel. Van der Poel came around Girmay and held fast to take the win, not even having the energy to celebrate.
Oh no! @CalebEwan crashed in the sprint for the line 🙁
He got back up and crossed the line, where our team doctor is immediately there to assist him. pic.twitter.com/25FwlGCGv4
— Lotto Soudal (@Lotto_Soudal) May 6, 2022
Saturday’s stage is the penultimate day in Hungary and the first of two time trials, this one a 9.2 km, corner-happy effort back in Budapest and ending on a 1.3 km, 4.8 percent climb to the line. This year’s Giro has just 26 km of time trials, the fewest since 1962 when the route didn’t have a TT stage.
2022 Giro d’Italia Stage 1
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Fenix) 4:35:28
2) Biniam Girmay (Eritrea/Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) s.t.
3) Pello Bilbao (Spain/Bahrain-Victorious) s.t.
70) Alex Cataford (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +0:42