Mikel Landa lit up stage two at the Tour of the Alps but his bold breakaway was foiled inside the final kilometre.
Having attacked over the day’s crucial climb 25km from the finish the Spaniard forged clear in a group of five that quickly slimmed down to three - Landa, Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani CSF).
But the trio were dragged back with 500 metres to go and the shortened second stage came down to an uphill sprint won by Rohan Dennis (BMC), with Geraint Thomas claiming a strong fifth place to solidify third overall. Kenny Elissonde finished an impressive ninth.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) sprinted to second behind Dennis, pushing him into the race lead, three seconds ahead of Thomas.
With heavy snow on the Brennero Pass the start was moved to Vipiteno, lopping 40km off the 180km stage, but the race didn’t explode until the St Justina, the only categorised climb of the day.
Landa hit the gas and forged a strong gap, but with teams pulling in the peloton, it all came back together on the tough slopes leading up to the finish.
It’s all looking good for tomorrow - personally and as a team
Speaking to TeamSky.com after the stage, Thomas said he was willing his team-mate to stay away.
He said: “When Mikel attacked on that climb with 25km to go I wasn’t sure if it would stick because Astana were riding but he managed to pull out a good lead.
“I was hoping he’d stay away, but in the last 10km FDJ and Cannonade started riding hard. There was a lot of guys chasing so unfortunately they got caught. It was a decent day though - everyone got stuck in.”
With a nasty drag to the line the final sprint was a tough one and 'G' found himself slightly boxed in.
“I wanted to try and leave it late in the sprint and come from behind,” he explained, "but I just got a little boxed in. A few guys were going backwards and I lost my momentum a bit which was a shame - I wanted to win. But it’s all looking good for tomorrow - personally and as a team.
“We’ve only got six guys here, but we’ve always got six guys at the end, so it shows that everyone is strong. We’ll get stuck in and see what happens.”
With a second place on day one and fifth place on day two, the Welshman has clearly come out of his Tenerife training camp in good shape.
He continued: “I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel coming here after that block in Tenerife, plus a couple of Giro recons that involved a lot of travelling over the few days prior to the race, but I feel like that work has paid off.
“I’ll get a good block of racing here then a good spell of rest, because that last week of the Giro is going to be super hard. I’ll go into the race nice and fresh, raring to go."