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Giro Stage 2 Preview: Sprinters to the Line

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Time for some regular ol first week stuff.

The main attraction, Marcel Kittel
The main attraction, Marcel Kittel
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Stage 2: Arnhem -- Nijmegen, 190km

Day 2 in the Netherlands as we connect up two of Gelderland's biggest cities.

What's It About?

Today's second stage of the Dutch Triplet is a gentle stroll around Gelderland, from the provincial capital of Arnhem to the ancient town of Nijmegen. Gelderland is the modern successor to the County of Guelders, first so named in 1096, and encompasses an incredible wealth of waterways that, back when such things mattered, gave the area a critical role in European economics. The Rhine, Waal, Meuse and IJssel rivers all pass through here, and trade has flourished since the 4th Century, according to the internets. This is some old, old country.

Nijmegen itself dates back to the time of Jesus, and is recognized as the second-oldest Dutch city after Maastricht. Its more recent drama focuses on the wars that raged across the region in the 20th century, and the strategic importance of those rivers. It was the first city to fall to the Germans (and to be bombarded by American planes in 1944, sadly). In Operation Market Garden, after Normandy, those rivers again became the focal point of action, with British forces attempting to link Arnhem and Nijmegen on their way to invading Germany. But the trick was to not only dislodge the German troops but to prevent them from blowing the bridges in the process. Someone named Jan van Hoof allegedly cut the wires before one detonation could occur, and other attempts to float bombs downstream were foiled by Allied forces. From Nijmegen the British were able to prepare to cross the Rhine, and the rest is history.

Course Features

Few in number, but not zero. Map first:

Giro stage 2 map

And the profile. There is one this time.

Profile stage 2

Look! Bumps in the road! That lone rated climb is in Berg-en-Dal (Mountain and Valley), a woodsy little town on the German border, where someone from the breakaway will inherit the climber's jersey for a day or two. But the main feature is a generally low-lying course, which concludes with two 8km loops around Nijmegen. The map indicates that the finale is light on bad corners, more of a gently arching route to the line, which should hopefully end in a clean sprint.

For the GC riders, this should be a day to sit back and watch. There is always a lot of stuff to pay attention to, but with luck crashes won't mar what's shaping up to be an exciting Giro. Knock on wood.

Riders to Watch

All the guys in Jens' sprinters preview. Marcel Kittel of Etixx-Quick Step comes in as the favorite for the opening stages, and today's performance in the time trial confirms that he means business. Each win nets someone a 10 second bonus, and Kittel sits only 11" down on his former Giant teammate Tom Dumoulin. But plenty of other riders -- Andre Greipel, Caleb Ewan, Elia Viviani and a motivated Moreno Hofland racing on home soil -- will have designs on the stage should Kittel falter.

AmyBC's Food and Drink Pairings

Each stage will feature some alcohol and edible suggestions from our international food and wine writer AmyBC. You can check out her blog at Winebookgirl.

Alcohol Effen vodka:

Effen is made from premium wheat from Northern Holland. They say that "of all base materials used to make vodka—grapes, potato, corn, soy grain, rye—wheat contains the purest kind of starch. The result is a silky, smooth liquid and the best vodka you can buy." My home created Giro cocktail: Why, yes, it is pink 1 shot vodka, 1 shot rhubarb shrub, sparkling water to taste What is shrub? Fruit macerated with sugar and then combined with vinegar. More here.

Food: An Italian style cheese made in the Netherlands.

Parrano is aged for five months, developing its nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano flavors while maintaining the firm, smooth texture of a young Gouda. This perfect combination brings you the best of both worlds: a cheese that is full of flavor and versatile enough to cut, grate and melt. I used it in a Cacio e Pepe.

Pick to Win

Marcel Kittel. Too easy.