8 May 2023

Jonathan Milan wins Giro d’Italia stage

For the first time in his still young career, Jonathan Milan is participating in the Giro d’Italia. And at the end of the second stage of this Grand Tour, the young Italian was the fastest in the sprint of the first group, beating some fast riders. With this stage win, Milan also ended a lengthy drought for Team Bahrain Victorious, which had not won a race in more than three months.

The 106th edition of the Giro d'Italia as the first of three Grand Tours of the pro cycling season, started on Saturday in Fossacesia Marina. Team Bahrain Victorious is riding in support of Jack Haig as its GC captain, aiming at a top5 result. Haig's key support in the mountains is Damiano Caruso and Santiago Buitrago. For bunch sprints, the team is relying on Jonathan Milan, with Andrea Pasqualon as his final lead-out man. Add Jasha Sütterlin, Edoardo Zambanini and Yukiya Arashiro who was called up late for the race after Gino Mäder tested positive for Covid-19 only days before the start.

The Giro started with an individual time trial that feature a climb to the finish, so pacing one's effort was key and from the perspective of Team Bahrain Victorious, the main goal was to limit the time loss to pure specialists against the clock. Jonathan Milan, Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig finished in 30th, 31st and 38th, respectively, all conceding about one and a half minutes to the day's winner Remco Evenepoel. Measuring 202 kilometres in distance, stage 2 only featured two category 4 climbs that were pretty far away from the finish. For this reason, the sprint specialists marked this stage along the Adriatic coast.

Five riders went up the road in the opening hour in a bid for the first best climbers jersey. The breakaway was brought back with 34 kilometres to go, and from there, the teams of the sprinters would not allow any more attacks. But deep in the finale and with about 3.5 kilometres to go, some riders crashed far up front in the peloton and slowed down many riders - some sprinters, but also overall contenders such as Santiago Buitrago and Jack Haig. At least none of the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious were involved in the crash, and the team had three riders in the first group of about 45 riders with Damiano Caruso, Andrea Pasqualon and Jonathan Milan.

This group was to sprint for the stage win, and Andrea Pasqualon skillfully piloted Jonathan Milan through the final set of corners and onto the end of the sprint train of Alpecin Deceunick at the beginning of the finishing straight. For a short moment, it looked as if the young Italian might get boxed in, but he created the space he needed with an impressive acceleration with just over 200 meters to go, went past Groves and Gaviria into the lead and extended it to more than two bike lengths on the finish line. Thus Jonathan Milan got to enjoy a much-celebrated stage win in San Salvo in what was the first mass-start stage in the Giro d'Italia in his still young career.

No wonder Jonathan Milan was almost left in disbelief after his win: "Yesterday I had tested my legs in the individual time trial, and today I wanted to give it a go in the sprint. My team did a great job to put me in a perfect position, and when he dropped me off, Andrea told me to take it easy and not to go too early. I still can't believe that I have managed to win today's stage, in what is only the second stage of my first Giro d'Italia ever." Tomorrow's third stage is also likely to end in a bunch sprint, but on Tuesday the climbers and overall contenders get a first chance to shine and go for a stage win in this year's Giro d'Italia. We can't wait to see how this unfolds.

1. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:55.11 hours
2. David Dekker, NED, st
3. Kaden Groves, AUS, st

Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency