Pöstlberger Wins Stage 1 of Giro d'Italia
Lukas Pöstlberger (Team Bora - Hansgrohe) delivered a grand surprise on stage 1 of the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. Pöstlberger set out on a mission to trick the eager sprint aces by attacking solo in the final kilometers. He thereby formed a gap and in solo fashion passed the flamme rouge marking the start the last kilometer.
Showing remarkable form and persistence, Pöstlberger managed to keep the wildly chasing sprinter peloton behind him and crossed the finish line alone. Not even Team Orica-Scott's Caleb Ewan, who accelerated like a guided missile in the final 500 meters, had the power to reel him in. Ewan, therefore, had to settle for second place ahead of Germany's André Greipel (Team Lotto-Soudal).
The first stage of this year's Giro d'Italia covered more than 200 kilometers on the island of Sardinia and exposed the riders to three category 4 climbs and two intermediate sprints. The stage did not feature any difficult climbs, so fans were expecting a bunch sprint final staring leading sprinters such as Andre Greipel, Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gavira (Quick Step Floors Team) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo).
A six-man group formed the breakaway of the day directly after the start. In the peloton the sprinter teams, led by Quick-Step Floors, Lotto-Soudal and Orica-Scott, controlled the pace as expected. Eventually these teams, however, would fail to reel in the breakaway before the important final phase of the race, where the teams need full control to be able to form sprint trains and plan lead-out formations for their sprinters. With the lack of sufficient speed in the peloton came the risk of dangerous counter-attacks from riders such as Pöstlberger.
By winning today's stage, Pöstlberger also took the Maglia Rosa, the jersey for the best sprinter and the best youngest rider jersey.
Commenting on his stage victory and overall Giro race lead Pöstlberger said "There was some wind all day. It made the stage hard. We had one guy (Cesare Benedetti) in the breakaway, so we saved energy for the finale. When we entered Olbia (finish town) we lost each other a little and the race started to become disorganized. Some guys attacked and I jumped to close for Sam (Bennett). I heard Sam shouting on the radio 'Pösti - go for it' when I opened a gap in the final kilometers."
"We have all the Maglias (classification jerseys). This is Bora’s best day ever at the Giro. It’s also the biggest result in my career. I need some time, some weeks maybe and some glasses of wine to realize what I've achieved. It wasn’t planned, but this is cycling, it’s kind of about faith and desire."
"I’ve learned from my teammate Peter Sagan to have fun and always take the positive side of things, even if it’s snowing like at the Tour de Romandie last week. This is my first start in a Grand Tour but it’s also my first time in Sardinia and not the last time for sure. I’m already planning a vacation here one day, so that I’ll have some time herein the summer. Sardinia is beautiful," Pöstlberger concluded.
Pöstlberger is the first Austrian rider to win a Giro d'Italia stage.
Saturday's stage 2 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia is a medium mountain stage taking the peloton through inland Sardinia. The stage will begin with a rolling section across the Nuoro region, featuring four climbs - Bitti and Orune (non-categorized climbs), Nuoro (a steeper, categorized climb) and Passo di Genna Silana (categorized climb). After Genna Silana follows a long, fast-running descent (over 20 kilometers, quite bumpy at points) on wide, well-surfaced roads. The final 10 kilometers are flat.