VISEGRAD, Hungary (AP)Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday and claimed the race’s first maglia rosa on his debut in the Italian grand Tour.
Van der Poel, who rides for Alpecin-Fenix, edged Eritrean cyclist Biniam Girmay at the end of a chaotic bunch sprint on the uphill finish to the citadel in Visegrad in the first of three stages in Hungary.
Pello Bilbao was third at the end of the undulating 195-kilometer (121-mile) route from Budapest.
Caleb Ewan was fighting hard for the win but crashed with less than 200 meters remaining after touching Girmay’s back wheel.
Two Drone Hopper riders led the stage for most of the day after escaping shortly after the start. Italians Mattia Bias and Filippo Tagliani easily built a lead and had a maximum advantage of 11 minutes before the peloton started reeling them in.
They were caught with a little under 14 kilometers (nine miles) remaining and the stage sparked into life on the five-kilometer (three-mile) climb to the finish.
Saturday’s second stage is an individual time trial through Budapest, that also sees an uphill finish. There are peaks of 14% in the first section toward the end of the nine-kilometer (six-mile) route.
Two years later than it was meant to be, it is the first time a grand tour has started in Hungary and the 14th time the Giro has started outside of Italy.
The Giro was due to start in Hungary in 2020 but the pandemic forced organizers to reschedule the race to October and move the start to Sicily.
The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports