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Giro d’Italia Stage 1: Narváez Overcomes Pogačar Aggression for Opening Victory

Giro d’Italia Stage 1: Narváez Overcomes Pogačar Aggression for Opening Victory

Jhonatan Narváez lifted the hopes of the INEOS Grenadiers and anyone hoping for a competitive Giro d’Italia with a sprint victory over heavy GC favorite Tadej Pogačar of UAE, taking stage 1 in Torino and the first maglia rosa. While the Slovene and his UAE Emirates team took a great deal of initiative for a GC favorite just starting the Giro, not even a late attack over the final climb by Pogačar could shake the Ecuadorean, and Narváez came just past in a sprint along with late-arriving Max Schachmann of BORA Hansgrohe, who pipped Pogačar for second.

Lilian Calmejane of Intermarché Wanty was the sole survivor out front of the peloton as they ascended the major feature of the day, the Colle della Maddalena, over a course mimicking some of the spicier editions of Milano-Torino, and Calmejane will wear the KOM jersey tomorrow for his troubles. But he was swept up by the charging peloton over the final climb of the San Vito, by which time the group had been reduced to exclude a couple pre-race favorites such as Thymen Arensman of INEOS and Romain Bardet of Team dsm Firmenech.

With his final helper Rafal Majka spent, Pogačar accelerated on his own past the leaders and got nearly free, but for Narváez, who accompanied him back down into the outskirts of Torino for the sprint, eventually joined by Schachmann, where Narváez took the honors for his second career stage victory at the Giro. But for those who faltered on the Maddalena, the rest of the GC contenders came over the line with a ten second gap to the leading group.

Alex Baudin of Decathlon AG2R, in his second Giro d’Italia, gained a bit of space over the peloton on the San Vito with a small group and survived to the finish four seconds ahead of the group to take fourth place and the initial maglia bianca — one of the only competitions Pogačar is not favored to win. Mauri Vansevenant and Cian Uijtdebroeks, among others, came in with the favorites to stay four seconds back in the youth competition.

For INEOS, it’s an auspicious start to their Giro, where they hope to revive their reputation as one of the world’s great grand tour teams. The 2010s may be long behind us as new names and faces have taken over, and losing Arensman from their possible challengers’ list is a blow, but they brought a deep squad to Italy led by last year’s runner-up Geraint Thomas, and while Arensman searches for his form, Thomas can depend on his ample help through the early tests and hopefully into…

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