Van der Poel sprints to win in opening stage Giro d'Italia and takes pink jersey, Eritrea's Biniam Girmay finished 2nd
27-year-old Van der Poel was ahead of Eritrean Biniam Girmay (second) and Spaniard Pello Bilbao (third) in the sprint in Hungary. Caleb Ewan, one of the favorites for the stage victory, crashed just before the finish.
Wilco Kelderman and Bauke Mollema also finished in the top ten. BORA-hansgrohe leader Kelderman was fifth and Mollema crossed the finish line in seventh.
Van der Poel is the tenth Dutchman to win the pink jersey. Kelderman was the last in 2020 and earlier Tom Dumoulin, Erik Breukink, Steven Kruijswijk, Pieter Weening, Jean-Paul van Poppel, Jeroen Blijlevens, Wim van Est and Gerrit Voorting wore the pink.
On Saturday, Van der Poel defends in the second stage, an individual time trial over 9.2 kilometers through the streets of Budapest, a lead of four seconds over Girmay and six seconds over Bilbao.
Two Italian cyclists color stage
The opening stage in Hungary took the peloton over 195 kilometers from Budapest to Visegrád. The course was almost flat, but the finish was on a 5.5 kilometer climb with an average gradient of 4.2 percent.
Shortly after the start, the Italians Mattia Bais and Filippo Tagliani went on an adventure. The duo of Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli got all the space from the peloton and built up a lead of about twelve minutes.
During the stage the difference became smaller and smaller. With just over 30 kilometers to go, Bais and Tagliani had one minute of their lead left. The peloton let the two escapees struggle for a while, but they were caught 13 kilometers from the finish.
Then the sprinter teams settled in front of the peloton. With 3 kilometers to go, Lawrence Naesen attacked, but the Belgian was passed by Lennard Kämna moments later.
The German was caught in the final kilometer, so a sprint had to make the decision. In it, Ewan crashed just before the finish after hitting Girmay's rear wheel. Van der Poel then left the Eritrean just behind.