BUDAPEST, Hungary—A storming time trial from Simon Yates saw the British rider win the second stage of the Giro d’Italia while Mathieu van der Poel kept hold of the pink jersey on Saturday.
Yates, one of the title favorites, clocked 11 minutes and 50 seconds on the nine-kilometer individual time trial through Budapest that included a steep uphill finish.
Van der Poel, who won Friday’s opening stage, was last down the ramp and the Dutch cyclist came close to claiming a second successive stage win on his Giro debut but finished three seconds behind Yates.
It was only Yates’s second time trial success and his first in a grand tour.
“For sure this is my best time trial victory,” Yates said. “Of course really happy, a little bit unexpected but I’ll take them as they come.
“I was never confident, Van der Poel was close as well, but you always have that belief you would win and I managed to hang on.”
Tom Dumoulin was third, five seconds behind Yates.
Yates, who rides for Team BikeExchange-Jayco, is looking to overcome Giro disappointment. He led the race for 13 days in 2018 before cracking in the mountains and eventually finishing 21st. He redeemed himself somewhat by finishing third last year.
Yates moved into second spot in the standings and has built a slender lead over his main rivals for the maglia rosa. He is 11 seconds behind Van der Poel and five ahead of 2017 Giro winner Dumoulin.
“I would have signed for this before,” Van der Poel said. “I did a really good TT. The difference between winning and second is pretty close. I bought myself an extra day in the pink jersey so I think I can be really happy with it.”
This Giro includes just two time trials that total just over 26 kilometers, the shortest since 1962.
Sunday’s third stage is the final one in Hungary, and another one for the sprinters, is a 201-kilometer route along Lake Balaton from Kaposvár to Balatonfüred.
The race will then have its first rest day on Monday as the riders transfer to Italy.
“Tomorrow should be a sprint stage so I hope to take the jersey to Sicily for sure and then we’ll see what happens,” Van der Poel added.
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.
Image credits: AP