Mathieu Van der Poel claims first pink jersey of the Giro d’Italia on Hungarian hilltop finish

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.

The Course

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.

The 105th Giro’s first breakaway includes 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.

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 color 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.

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) st
3) Pello Bilbao (Spain/Bahrain-Victorious) st
70) Alex Cataford (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +0:42

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