After an electrifying start to the 107th Giro d’Italia, the peloton is bracing for a gruelling challenge on Stage 2. The 161km journey from San Francesco al Campo to the revered Santuario di Oropa will be the race’s first summit finish, promising dramatic shifts in the general classification.

2024 Giro d’Italia Stage 2 Route

The route initiates with a serene progression through the Canavese and Vercelli districts, but tranquillity is set to give way to a relentless series of ascents and descents starting in Valdengo. The climbs of Crocemosso and Oasi Zegna will serve as mere preludes to the pivotal climb to Oropa, which has been a Giro staple, immortalised by Marco Pantani’s astonishing 1999 victory.

As the course approaches Biella, the riders will descend rapidly before facing the final 11km climb to Oropa. This climb is notorious for its varying gradients, peaking at a punishing 13% through Favaro, then settling into a 9% incline towards the sanctuary. The last stretch, a 130m porphyry-paved road, will likely see the first significant time gaps of this year’s Giro.

Contenders

Tadej Pogačar, still smarting from narrowly missing out on the opening stage victory to Jhonatan Narvaez, is expected to be in the thick of the action. Despite the setback, Pogačar showed formidable form, distancing many GC contenders on an unclassified climb and laying down a marker for the stages ahead.

Stage 2 could be pivotal for GC contenders like Geraint Thomas and Ben O’Connor, who need to limit any losses to Pogačar, particularly on the steep ramps of Oropa. The climb’s rich history and its previous race dynamics suggest we might witness significant moves from those aiming for the overall victory.

Vincenzo Nibali, a seasoned Giro contender, commented on the strategic complexities of the climb. “Oropa is a stage that everybody knows all about, and everybody’s legs should be very fresh this early in the Giro, but it’s a difficult climb to interpret,” said Nibali. He noted that much will depend on Pogačar’s tactics, indicating that the Slovenian might attempt to assert his dominance early in the race.

Tomorrow’s stage is not just a physical test but a tactical battlefield, where early shows of strength can set the tone for the remaining three weeks