photo credits @ Le Tour
Sonny Colbrelli handed his new Bahrain-Merida team their first World Tour victory today, after he surged during the final few hundred meters to snatch stage 2 of Paris-Nice ahead of John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and race leader Arnaud Demare (FDJ) in Amilly.
Meanwhile today’s wet stage saw 2013 and 2015 winner Richie Porte lose considerable ground, as did other pre-race favorites like Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), who called it quits on the road from Rochefort-en-Yvelines.
A nine rider breakaway group containing Romain Hardy (Fortuneo), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Sam Oomen (Sunweb), Kristin Koren (Cannondale), Oliver Naesen (Ag2R), Marc Soler (Movistar), Manuele Mori (UAE), Natal Berhane (Dimension Data), Delio Fernandez (Delko-Marseille), proceeded to ride clear after 6 kilometers of racing.
From there, Hardy was the first rider to crest the only climb of the day, Cote des Granges-le-Roi, thus solidifying his lead in the KOM points.
However, it wasn’t long before the breakaway group was reined in by the peloton, which subsequently split around the 28 kilometer mark with most of the race leaders and jersey-holders making their way into the front group.
The first sprint of the day in Pussay went to John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) ahead of Julian Alaphilippe, who took two seconds off yellow jersey holder Demare.
The first group of riders to emerge from a fractured peloton included Degenkolb (Trek), Kristoff (Katusha), Gallopin, Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Alaphilippe, Kittel (Quick Step), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar), Roosen, Wynants (Lotto-Jumbo), Demare, Molard, Sarreau (FDJ), Lutsenko (Astana), Laporte, Lemon (Cofidis), Barguil, Oomen (Sunweb), Swift (UAE), Bennett (Bora) and Siskevicius (Delko), while GC contenders like Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Dan Martin (Quick Step) were in a group trailing the leaders by 45 seconds – with 65 kilometers of racing still to go.
Dan Martin was later dropped from the group at the 80 kilometer mark, while the group containing Contador remained two minutes off the pace – followed by Richie Porte who trailed at 2:30 further back.
However, after a long chase, the peloton managed to regrouped at the 138 kilometer mark, only to see Bystrom, Gallopin, Wynants, Sarreau, Soupe and Siskevicius attack off the front.
Soupe was quickly dropped from the group, while Philippe Gilbert succeeded in bridging his way to the five leaders.
Sarreau punctured shortly afterwards, while Gilbert claimed the second sprint of the day in St Germain-des-Prés ahead of Tony Gallopin and Wynants.
Heading into the final 20 kilometers, the escapees’ lead had fallen to just 30 seconds, prompting Gilbert set out on his own.
From there, Gilbert went on to establish an advantage of 45 seconds over the chase.
However, with 6 kilometers to go, the Belgian champion was eventually reeled in, as the field once again came back together.
With that stage now set for a bunch sprint, Demare quickly found himself in excellent position, but the yellow jersey holder was caught off guard by Colbrelli, who timed his sprint to perfection during the closing 400 meters to seize the stage honors.
Stage 2 Results
ITA 1 COLBRELLI, Sonny (BAHRAIN – MERIDA) 4:20:59
GER 2 DEGENKOLB, John (TREK – SEGAFREDO)
FRA 3 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ)
NED 4 GROENEWEGEN, Dylan (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
FRA 5 LAPORTE, Christophe (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
DEN 6 BRESCHEL, Matti (ASTANA)
BEL 7 NAESEN, Oliver (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
GER 8 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL)
NOR 9 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA ALPECIN)
LTU 10 SISKEVICIUS, Evaldas (DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE KTM)
IRL 11 BENNETT, Sam (BORA – HANSGROHE)
AUS 12 MATTHEWS, Michael James (SUNWEB)
FRA 13 HARDY, Romain (FORTUNEO – VITAL CONCEPT)
RSA 14 JANSE VAN RENSBURG, Reinardt (DIMENSION DATA)
GBR 15 SWIFT, Ben (UAE Team Emirates)
FRA 16 SENECHAL, Florian (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
FRA 17 BARGUIL, Warren (SUNWEB)
General Classification after Stage 2
FRA 1 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ) 7:43:28
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