First road stage of this year's race sees German champ beat Elia Viviani in the final...

German champion Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe has won Stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia in the Tuscan town of Fucecchio today, taking the victory in the sprint from Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Elia Viviani with Caleb Ewan of Lotto-Belisol finishing third. Primoz Roglic of Lotto-Visma retains the race lead by 19 seconds from Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott.

The forecast rain that led to a number of big names opting for early starts for yesterday’s opening time trial may not have materialised, but it was there in bucketloads in the first part of today’s stage.

The cold, wet conditions didn’t deter an eight-man breakaway group getting away early on in the 205-kilometre stage from Bologna to Fucecchio, with the route heading uphill for the first 50 kilometres as it crossed the Appenines, heading south towards Florence and a hilly, twisting final.

The rain had stopped and the sun was out by the time the race reached the two intermediate sprints today at Montespertoli following a short climb 130.2 kilometres into the stage, and at Empoli just 16.5 kilometres later.

Meanwhile both categorised climbs came in the last quarter of the stage – the Category 3 Montalbano (il Castro) climb, its 424-metre summit coming with just under 50 kilometres out, and the Category 4 San Baronto ascent, crested 26.3 kilometres from the finish.

By that time, just four members of the break were left at the front of the race, including Trek-Segafredo’s Guilio Ciccone who picked up maximum points on both climbs to consolidate his lead in the mountains competition, having taken the blue jersey in yesterday’s time trial.

The final escapees were swept up 7 kilometres from the finish in Andrea Tafi’s home town of Fucecchio, although today’s stage was dedicated to another Italian cycling great, Gino Bartali, who trained on many of these roads close to his home city of Florence.

Bora-Hansgrohe had led the chase and would get their reward through Ackermann’s victory, but another sprinter who would have anticipated being in the mix, Dimension Data’s Giacomo Nizzolo, missed out after puncturing with 10 kilometres left.

In the final, Italian national champion Viviani spotted the threat from his German counterpart Ackermann and switched to the Bora-Hansgrohe rider’s wheel, but was unable to come round him and snatch the win.

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Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.