The 2nd stage of the Giro del Trentino saw a showdown of the races top 19 riders on the finishing 8km climb to Brentonico. Richie Porte (Team Sky) came out tops as he arrived at the line ahead of Mikel Landa (Team Astana) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo Vini-Fantini).
The select group of 19 riders was created on the stages penultimate climb, a 15km HC category climb up the Passo Santa Barbara. At the foot of the climb there were 5 early leaders up the road but Team Sky set a relentless pace on the uphill gradient which quickly brought the race all together.
Nobody could attack the pace of Team Sky but rather, the peloton was whittled down to just 19 riders by the summit. Louis Meintjes and Merhawi Kudus were both part of the strong selection at the top. On the fast descent, Merhawi momentarily lost touch with the front runners but would join up with the leaders before the final 8km Cat 2 climb to Brentonico.
With 4 riders in the lead group, Team Sky assumed control as they looked to set up Porte for victory. Merhawi was the first rider to find himself in difficulty as he got distanced with 5km to go. Porte would launch his attack with 3km to go and only Landa could respond. It was a slog to the line for the rest and Louis was strong enough to hold on for 9th place on the stage, the result would also see Louis take over the lead in the best young rider competition.
Louis Meintjes – Rider
The race was pretty calm and easy for the most part. Everyone was waiting for the last 2 climbs and then it was full speed all the way to the finish with Sky setting the pace. The legs felt good though and tomorrow is another hard day. It is also nice to be in the white jersey once again.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
The plan was to save the legs for the final climb today and arrive at the foot of the climb with 3 riders. Team Sky was in top shape today and they had a very, very strong team. We got to the last climb and we still had 2 riders in the group so that was good, Merhawi and Louis were both in the selection. We could only really follow the pace set by Sky, with most of their team going to the Giro they were showing their strength.
Only when the race hit the steeper slopes with 3km to go did it start to split. Louis did a very good ride today and he was always close to the leaders. We have to be realistic, Sky and Astana are both super strong here with their Giro teams so I am satisfied to come away from the stage with the best young rider jersey. The team did a great job today as well, protecting Merhawi and Louis and bringing them to a good position in the finale.