Matteo Pelucchi won stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico Thursday in Cascina, Italy. Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) surged late for a bunch-sprint victory in the 166-kilometer leg from San Vincenzo.
Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) was second and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) was third.
“I can still hardly believe that I’ve won, because all the best sprinters in the world are here. It’s an incredible result. I knew I could be competitive, but it is always very difficult to turn that into a win,” said Pelucchi. “This win I dedicate to [teammate] Kristof Goddaert, who died a few weeks ago in a road accident. He was often my roommate. It has been very hard for the team, but it has left us more united than ever and gave us an extra something. We want to be close to those who are close to him.”
Overall leader Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) missed out in the sprint, but finished in the peloton to defend his blue jersey.
Five riders made the long escape on Thursday: Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Davide Malacarne (Europcar), and Daniel Teklehaymanot (MTN-Qhubeka). Dowsett went alone with just over 30 mostly-flat kilometers remaining in the stage. The Briton pushed on with 15km to go, holding onto a lead of more than half-a-minute. The former Giro d’Italia stage winner used his time trial prowess to push on alone toward the finish.
A crash with 13km to go brought a half-dozen riders to the ground, with Lotto-Belisol losing at least two men from the front of the race. Jurgen Van Den Broeck was forced to abandon the race after receiving stitches to a laceration on the inside of his right knee — the knee he injured in a crash at the Tour de France in 2013.
“The cut was stitched twice and above as well as below a wound was stitched twice,” the team said. “Considering it’s a horizontal and stitched wound, it’s impossible for ‘VDB’ to continue Tirreno-Adriatico. So Van den Broeck is forced to return to Belgium. One of the following days he will be examined at the hospital of Herentals to see if there are any more injuries.”
Tinkoff-Saxo, Cannondale, and BMC Racing took up the pace-making in the bunch and with 6.8km to go, the race was back together, Dowsett’s long bid undone.
FDJ.fr went to the front for Arnaud Demare with 3.5km remaining, Omega Pharma massing behind them.
A crash with 2.5km remaining took Marcel Kittel out of the running and the big German threw his bike in frustration. The crash split the peloton, catching out Cavendish.
“I was behind Kittel when he crashed at a narrow little roundabout, 2km from the finish,” said Cavendish. “The peloton split because of it. Some gentlemen in the peloton gave me a hand to move up, but I got to the front with 500 meters to go, before the sprint even started, and I was already on the limit.”
Demare rode under the 1km kite behind three teammates and looked to have the stage in-hand before Pelucchi came from Greipel’s wheel to pip the Frenchman at the line.
“It was a very confused sprint,” said Pelucchi. “Until the final kilometer it wasn’t clear which team would take matters into hand. There were lots of riders slowing down because they’d finished their work, and lots of others moving up. I was still behind at 500 meters. That’s how I intended, because on the previous circuit I saw that there was a headwind, so you needed to come out of the group quickly. At 200 meters I darted ahead of the others. When I saw Greipel, I didn’t want to wait. When I saw I had managed to get past him, I began to believe in myself, and as you see the finish line approach, you feel a surge of strength.”
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was fourth.
Tirreno-Adriatico continues Friday with the 210km third stage, from Cascina to Arezzo. The relatively uneventful stage profile culminates with a technical run-in to a final, uphill kilometer that averages five-percent gradient.