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Giro d’Italia: Narvaez wins opening stage with Pogacar third

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Jhonatan Narvaez achieved his second stage victory in the Giro d’Italia

Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narvaez defeated Giro d’Italia favorite Tadej Pogacar to win the opening stage of the first Grand Tour of the year.

Ineos Grenadiers rider Narvaez stormed to the finish in Turin, pushing Slovenian Pogacar into third place, while German Max Schachmann finished second.

UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar is aiming to complete a rare double – winning the Giro and Tour de France in the same year – a feat not achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998.

He attacked on the final climb and left most of his rivals behind for the overall victory. Although he couldn’t win the stage, he already has a handy lead over the likes of Britain’s Geraint Thomas.

Narvaez took his second stage victory in the Giro, after having already ridden a stage in 2020.

His Ineos teammate Thomas finished 10 seconds back on the day and sits 11th overall, 20 seconds behind Narvaez when bonus seconds are taken into account.

Among Pogacar’s other expected rivals for the general classification, Colombian Daniel Martinez and Australian Ben O’Connor finished alongside Thomas in the peloton, while Spaniard Juan Pedro Lopez was a further 10 seconds behind – 30 seconds behind in total.

Frenchman Romain Bardet, meanwhile, was 39th, one minute and 37 seconds behind the leader.

Although Pogacar is already in a strong position, stage winner Narvaez was pleased to deny him an eighth victory in just eleven days of competitive racing this year.

“You don’t get many opportunities like that,” he said about taking the leader’s pink jersey.

“He (Pogacar) launched his sprint too early, after such a tough stage he went from about 200 meters. I waited for the 100 meters.”

Sunday’s second stage is a 161km route from San Francesco al Campo to Santuario di Oropa (Biella) and includes a steep climb to the finish.

Result phase one

1. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) 3 hours 14 minutes 23 seconds

2. Max Schachmann (Ger/Bora-hansgrohe) same time

3. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE team Emirates)

4. Alex Baudin (Fra/Decathlon-AG2R-La Mondiale) +6 sec.

5. Nicola Conci (Ita/Alpecin – Deceuninck) +10 sec

10. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) same time

General classification

1. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) 3 hours 14 minutes 13 seconds

2. Max Schachmann (Ger/Bora-hansgrohe) +3 sec

3. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) +6 sec

4. Alex Baudin (Fra/Decathlon-AG2R-La Mondiale) +16 sec.

5. Damiano Caruso (Victorious Italy/Bahrain) +17 sec

11. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +20 sec