Mauri Vansevenant finishes the day as the best-placed Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider.
Budapest – the capital of Hungary and former twin capital of The Dual Monarchy – became Friday afternoon the 14th different city to host the Grande Partenza, huge crowds lining out both sides of the road and making an electric atmosphere as the peloton gathered for the start of the opening stage, a 195km journey to Visegrad.
Two riders surged clear soon after the official start was given, but despite the huge lead they got to have at one point, they didn’t stand a chance of holding off the peloton, who had just one thing in mind: make sure the race is back together by the foot of the day’s only difficulty, the 5.5km climb to the Visegrad Citadel. Averaging 4.2%, but kicking up to 8% some three kilometers from the finish, the small ascent witnessed a fierce battle for positioning, with many teams keen on bringing their leaders to the front.
Riding his fourth Giro, Michael Mørkøv did an excellent job on the ascent, guiding Davide Ballerini towards the head of the bunch, but the tension in the group as things became more and more hectic took its toll on the field and several men hit the deck inside two kilometers to go. Davide was among those who hit the deck and couldn’t contest the reduced sprint, won by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). Fortunately, the Italian got up on his bike and completed the stage, without any major consequences, and will be at the start of Saturday’s individual time trial in Budapest.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images