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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Five favorites for stage 2 time trial

Saturday's tight, technical TT could see a whole host of riders in the frame for the stage win and the second pink jersey of the race. Here's our picks.

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The Giro d’Italia awarded its first pink jersey when Mathieu van der Poel pulled on the maglia rosa atop the Visegrad climb Friday.

Van der Poel has just a slim four-second GC lead over a host of hitters, and with a tight and technical ITT to come for stage 2, there’s high chance a different rider could be wearing pink come Saturday night.

Also read:

Saturday’s Budapest TT presents riders a pan-flat parcours packed with 90-degree corners and a 1.3km, five percent finishing kick.

An absence of long straightaways means it’s not a guarantee for the specialists, but the pan-flat start and only a shallow climb means anyone who wants to win will need to know their way around a TT machine, and must be able to make it move fast.

Stage 2’s time trial is tight, twisting and open to all sorts of riders.

It’s a stage that could see a swathe of riders rip to success. Here are our five riders to watch:

Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma)

Second at the Tokyo Olympics, the 2017 world time trial title and six TT grand tour victories says it all. Tom Dumoulin is one of the top favorites for stage 2.

With Primož Roglič, Rohan Dennis, and Filippo Ganna out of the way, Dumoulin is one of the most prolific time trialists in the peloton.

Dumoulin’s mountain form is uncertain and so he’s not been shy in saying he’s targeting the stage in what could be his best chance at pulling on the pink jersey he won in 2017. The Dutch ace has two Giro TTs on his palmarès already. A third is far from out of the question.

João Almeida (UAE Emirates)

Joāo Almeida has a host of TT successes and will have a superfast new time trial bike between his legs Saturday.

The Portuguese GC contender is one of the most consistent time trial riders in the peloton. He founded his against-all-odds parade in the pink jersey in 2020 on three time trial top-6s, and backed that up with fourth and fifth against the clock in last year’s Giro.

A lack of TT kilometers at this year’s Giro means Almeida will be looking for every second he can get in the hunt for GC gains in Saturday’s Budapest lung-burner.

Almeida has high odds of bettering the second-place he scored on the opening day of his breakout ride in 2020.

Currently poised just four seconds back on Van der Poel, Almeida could be pulling on the pink if he tops the table Saturday.

Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma)

To be considered one of the best TT testers in a team as deep with time trialists as Jumbo-Visma is saying something, but Edoardo Affini has earned the accolade.

Despite only scoring one win against the clock in his relatively young WorldTour career, Italian Affini hit the podium in both of last year’s Giro TTs on his way to hitting the top-10 in all but two of his 10 tests against the clock in 2021.f

With a sprint stage to come Sunday, Affini will have the added incentive of the chance at taking both the stage and being able to carry the maglia rosa to his home country for the Sicilian stage 4.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)

“MvdP” to win a TT? Why not?

Mathieu van der Poel vowed to go out swinging in the stage 2 time trial after he pulled on pink on Friday afternoon.

The Dutchman is no TT specialist, but he’s more than capable of turning on the afterburners when it matters most, and a test as unpredictable as that on tap for stage 2 could see him rise to his pink jersey occasion.

Van der Poel extended his run in the yellow jersey of last year’s Tour de France when he finished an against-all-odds fifth in the stage 5 time trial. Like Affini, Van der Poel will have all the motivation he needs to empty the engine on Saturday to leave himself ready to take the leader’s jersey in his luggage to Sicily ahead of the Etna summit finish.

Thymen Arensman (Team DSM)

Team DSM co-captain Thymen Arensman has taken huge strides this spring, and could well step to the top of the podium Saturday.

The 22-year-old Giro rookie finished third behind Primož Roglič and Magnus Cort at last year’s Vuelta TT to reconfirm himself as one of the top time trialists to have emerged from the Netherlands since Tom Dumoulin.

A huge ride through the Tour of the Alps last month shows Arensman has hit form at just the right time, even if the uphill finale saw him off the back of the GC group Friday.

Don’t be surprised to see a new star shine in Arensman-shape when the TT wraps up Saturday night.

Also watch:

Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco), Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma), Tobias Foss (Jumbo Visma), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Victorious), Magnus Cort (EF Education EasyPost), Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco).