After a strong time trial on stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia, Rohan Dennis started stage 2 in second place on the General Classification and in an impressive display of teamwork and strength, was able to claim the Maglia Rosa after securing the maximum three bonus seconds at the second intermediate sprint, to overtake Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
BMC Racing Team made their intentions clear early by chasing down any dangerous moves before allowing three riders to form the day’s breakaway.
The peloton allowed the trio to gain a maximum advantage of three minutes after 60km, of the 167km stage, before BMC Racing Team assumed control of the chase and quickly brought the gap down to below one minute with 80km remaining.
The BMC Racing Team train continued to pull at the front of the bunch, led by Loïc Vliegen, Alessandro De Marchi, and Kilian Frankiny, and remained in front when the catch was made with 75km.
The blistering pace set by De Marchi and Vliegen saw the peloton completely strung out along the road, which set the stage for Dennis’ effort to claim the second intermediate sprint.
De Marchi, Nicolas Roche, Francisco Ventoso, Jempy Drucker, and Jurgen Roelandts led Dennis out perfectly which allowed him to hold off Elia Viviani (Quickstep-Floors), while Roelandts claimed the last bonus seconds on offer.
Dennis became virtual Maglia Rosa leader and from there, it was all about staying safe in the peloton and getting through the expected bunch sprint.
The battle for the sprint in Tel Aviv saw Viviani claim the win and Drucker test his legs in the finale to round out the top ten on stage 2.
With Dennis crossing the line in the middle of the peloton, the Maglia Rosa was confirmed, and Dennis cemented his place in history as one of only 21 riders to have worn all three Grand Tour leaders’ jerseys.
Dennis now leads Dumoulin by one second and Campenaerts by three seconds going into the final stage in Israel.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Rohan Dennis:
“The plan was to just play it by ear initially. We knew that the second sprint was the one with bonus time and we thought that if it was within grasp, and the breakaway wasn’t too far away, we would try. About 40km or 50km from the sprint, they asked me if I wanted to do and I said not really but we did it anyway and I thought that I can’t not put 100% into it. The team delivered me exactly where I needed to be for the sprint and all I had to do was go as hard as I could and there was no way I couldn’t win it. Then after that, it was about making sure I didn’t lose time in the splits in the final. It was massive teamwork.”
“It’s a special feeling to have the Maglia Rosa. Yesterday was a bit disappointing but the team backed me today and the team did everything possible to put me into pink. It’s a great jersey and it’s a real honor to be the leader of a Grand Tour and for our team, we wanted to do it for Andy Rihs. He put a lot into our team and we wanted to give back to him and to do this for him and his family is a real pleasure for us. We will keep it as long as possible but I think for me it is more about learning still. I’m sure at some stage it will be taken away from me but I will keep fighting all the way to Rome.”
“When I first started cycling, I never thought that I would wear all Grand Tour leaders’ jerseys. I saw guys do things like this and I always thought that was really amazing so to be a part of that little group is a real honor.”
Maximilian Sciandri, Sports Director:
“This morning, I needed to get people to bite onto it and I needed Rohan to believe. I think he was a little bit afraid of the word sprint. I think he didn’t want to disappoint anyone by trying and then failing so it was a slow process to get him there. My plan coming into the stage was to try and get the jersey and slowly but surely everyone came around to that idea. The guys were all together and we were able to close the gap to the breakaway. Earlier in the day, Campenaerts was trying something but we showed we could close the gap. Then, Rohan said on the radio that he wanted Jurgen to lead him out and from there it fell into place.”
“This was something we had to work on. It wasn’t given to us but the teamwork was really closing the breakaway and winning the sprint. When I came to the Giro, I always had in my mind the first day with Rohan but it didn’t happen, however I still dreamt about it last night and I still wanted something for Andy Rihs. Something for everything he has given to us and we gave him something special today.”
“We are going to defend the jersey with every bit of energy because the value it gives to every other result will be high. We are not going to give it away and we will hold onto it for as long as we can.”