Giro d'Italia 2024 stage two preview - an early summit finish

There could already be fireworks in the general classification on stage two of the Giro

Date: Sunday May 5, 2024
Distance: 161km
Start location: San Francesco al Campo
Finish location: Santuario di Oropa (Beila)
Start time: 12:55 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:13 CET

There is perhaps no place in Italy that better represents the complex legacy of Marco Pantani than the Sanctuary of Oropa. For one thing, it is a place of worship, housing a statue of the Virgin Mary carved from black Lebanese cedar, and the Italians’ relationship with the late climbing sensation borders on devotion. And the reason for such devotion was for spellbinding performances like his ascent to the sanctuary in 1999, in what might be the greatest of his many iconic performances. Despite seemingly being dumped out of contention after dropping a chain at the bottom of the climb, he not only recovered to defend the pink jersey, but one by one caught up to and passed dozens of riders ahead of him until there was nobody left to pass, going clear alone to claim a miraculous victory, while also breaking the record for the fastest the climb had even been completed. 

However, just one week later a scandal occurred that triggered the darker side to his legacy, when was kicked off the race for having too high a haematocrit level, indicating drug use. His name would be tarnished forever, and a few years later he spiralled into depression, ultimately dying in 2004 after a cocaine overdose. It was a tragic end to his life, and one that reflected the sad vulnerability that also made him such an endearing character. So endearing, in fact, that despite the doping he continues to be a revered figure in Italian cycling, as the many tributes sure to be paid today will testify.

Pantani would have loved having a summit finish to target in stage two, earlier than in any of the Giro d'Italia he competed at during his career — in fact, this is the earliest of any edition since 1989. This won’t be a full-on mountain stage, with the Alps only tentatively dipped into and only a couple of category three climbs preceding Oropa, but that mountain alone is enough to ensure the GC will already be ignited. When Pantani won, his GC rivals behind him arrived in ones and twos, with only four within 40 seconds and one within 30 seconds. And it was similarly selective the last time the Oropa hosted a Giro stage finish in 2017, a thrilling day in which Tom Dumoulin withheld multiple attacks to defend his pink jersey and win the stage. 

That might seem like a surprising amount of carnage for an 11.8km climb that averages only 6.2%, but those numbers don’t reflect the fluctuations of the gradients. A nasty ramp up to over 9% will rudely awaken the riders after a modest opening 5km, and then, after a brief respite, the final 5km to the top average 8%. It’s here where the damage can be done, and, even at this early stage of the race, we’ll have a good idea of which select few riders will be competing for the pink jersey this year. 

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website


UAE Team Emirates showed on stage two that they mean serious business in this year's Giro d'Italia by pacing hard on the final climb to obliterate the peloton. As a  result, Tadej Pogačar took time on all of his GC rivals, though he narrowly missed out on the stage victory. It's possible that he'll want to right that on stage two, and we can expect more aggressive racing from UAE Team Emirates on as the roads kick up. One of the only riders able to follow Pogačar when he launched his attack on stage one was Ineos Grenadiers' Jhonatan Narváez who eventually took victory. While stage two involves more climbing, the Ecuadorian rider looked in imperious form on the opening day of this year's Giro, so he shouldn't be counted out for another stage win.

The duo of Nicola Conci and Quinten Hermans from Alpecin-Deceuninck also looked incredibly strong on the opening stage of the Giro and both riders could handle the amount of climbing on stage two if they are having a good day. Another opportunistic breakaway rider is Lorenzo Fortunato of Astana Qazaqstan Team – the former Giro stage winner could be in with a shot on stage two if he gets in the right move and the GC contenders begin to look at each other. The same could be said for Michael Storer (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step) who have been known to perform well on these types of finishes before.

Of the general classification contenders, Romain Bardet (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) struggled with the pace on stage one of the Giro but will be more suited to the climb on stage two, and especially motivated to gain back some time. Geraint Thomas looked good for the Ineos Grenadiers on stage one, though the Welshman will mainly be focused on not losing any more time to Pogačar on stage two, rather than the win. Daniel Felipe Martínez from BORA-hansgrohe is well-suited to a summit finish before and is another rider who might be in with a shot at success on stage two. Attila Valter from Visma-Lease a Bike looked good on the opening stage of the Giro and will relish more climbing on stage two, as will Esteban Chaves of EF Education-EasyPost.


We think that Tadej Pogačar will take the victory in stage two of the Giro d'Italia. The Slovenian already looked strong on the opening day and with more climbing to put his rivals under pressure, it's going to be tough to beat him on stage two.

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