Van der Poel sprints to victory to win first stage of Giro d'Italia

Van der Poel sprints to victory to win first stage of Giro d'Italia Giro d'Italia - Stage 1 - Budapest to Visegrad, Hungary - May 6, 2022 Alpecin-Fenix's Mathieu Van Der Poel celebrates on the podium wearing the maglia rosa jersey

Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix won the first stage of the Giro d'Italia on Friday, beating Biniam Girmay on the final sprint to claim victory on the a 195-km flat ride from Budapest to Visegrad.

In a stage marred by crashes, Dutchman Van der Poel was neck-and-neck with Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert's Girmay but timed his attack to perfection to cross the line first with a time of four hours, 35 minutes and 28 seconds to take the Maglia Rosa. "I knew positioning was going to be the key for winning today and it's been difficult because I've been boxed in a few times. Only at the very end I realised that I could beat the sprinters," Van der Poel said. "It's incredible to wear the Maglia Rosa after the yellow jersey (at the Tour de France last year). But there's a time trial tomorrow and I don't know if I will be able to defend it. I'm going to try, for sure." Pello Bilbao of Bahrain Victorious was third while Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan crashed at the final turn when he made contact with Girmay. Ineos Grenadiers' Richard Carapaz, who won the race in 2019, was sixth. With cycling heavyweights such as last year's winner Egan Bernal, reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic absent, the field is open this year. The second stage on Saturday is a time trial in Budapest.

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