André Greipel finished off the hard work of his Lotto Soudal team with a well played long sprint victory on the second stage of Paris-Nice in Saint Amond Montrond. The German champion edged out French champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).
Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quickstep) held onto the yellow jersey, but Degenkolb pulled himself closer to the race lead with the time bonus, and is now third at three seconds behind Rohan Dennis (BMC).
It's not often that the early sprint wins in a headwind finish, but Greipel muscled his way to the line, holding off the fast-charging Demare, who left it perhaps just a little late.
"It was a bit of a headwind sprint. Arnaud (Demare) came in fast but I managed to hold my lead," Greipel said. "I'd like to give this victory to my mother, she is having a very hard time at the moment. Don't give up!"
The sprint was very nearly foiled by a late attack from former world time trial champion Tony Martin, who stood to take the leader's jersey from his teammate Kwiatkowski. Lotto Soudal dug deep to pull back Martin, who had help from Lars Boom (Astana) and Sky's Geraint Thomas.
"It was a bit of the mess in the finale, we didn't really know what was happening when Martin, Thomas and Boom went. They are three great time trial riders but fortunately we didn't lose our calm and we managed to catch them," Greipel said.
"It's important to win for the first time on Paris-Nice. It's a big race with some of the best sprinters in the peloton. Yesterday, we really didn't take part in the sprint. Today we wanted to do it better It's a team work, I win with them and I lose with them. So I was glad I was able to deliver today."
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), winner of stage 1, stood a chance at taking the race lead through time bonuses before stage 4's mountains, but after lacking power in the finale has turned his focus toward keeping the green jersey.
"Today it didn't go as well as yesterday. I found myself too far from the action and I lost a lot of energy to try and make it back to the front," Kristoff said. "As a result I didn't have good enough legs to do a good sprint. In the intermediate sprint, I managed to take some points but I was not as well later on. I know there's another chance tomorrow and I will try to get another one and to score points to try and keep this green jersey."
The second stage of Paris-Nice started under a cloud, literally and figuratively, as all of France mourned the loss of three sportsmen in a helicopter crash in Argentina. The deaths included Nacer Bouhanni's friend and fellow boxer Alexis Vastine, 28, and the Cofidis rider started the day by wearing a black jersey in mourning.
The race also began without Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep), who separated his shoulder and fractured his elbow in a crash in the opening stage, and will miss the Spring Classics as a result.
The first action of the day was a solo attack by Arnaud Gerard of Bretagne-Seche Environnement at the gun. The Frenchman was given a long leash, up to 8:25 at kilometer 60 as the peloton cruised along at only 35.3kph. After two hours, the speed had dropped to under 35kph.
The intermediate sprint in St. Pierre de Jards at 57.5km and St Amand Montrond at 127km provided some action, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) claiming the two bonus seconds over John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) in the first, and Degenkolb beating Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) for the second sprint, both behind Gerard.
Cofidis and Europcar finally came to the front to spark a serious chase. By the time the race reached the only difficulty of the day, the cote de la Tour, Gerard's lead had dropped to just over a minute. Behind, him Philippe Gilbert (BMC) used the climb to try to spark a move. The Belgian was followed by Jonathan Hivert (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) and Laurens De Vreese (Astana) in a brief breakaway over the top, but the peloton was not willing to let them go. With 38km to race, the peloton was all back together.
Thanks to his point atop the hill, Hivert kept his polka dot jersey as best climber in the race.
With 30km to go, no team had committed to controlling the pace, but a few kilometers later, Cannondale-Garmin poured on the gas at the front, while at the back FDJ's Sebastian Chavanel punctured and faced a long, hard chase through the team cars.
Chavanel made it back, but with 13.2km to go, another French sprinter, Europcar's Bryan Coquard, punctured and focussed the French TV producer's attention at the back of the race.
With 10km to go, the pace let up, with Etixx-Quickstep, Lampre, Astana and Cannondale-Garmin all at the front but unwilling to expend too much energy. The slowing allowed Coquard to rejoin the peloton with teammate Thomas Voeckler's help.
Tony Martin (Etixx) lit up the pace with 9.5km to go, and only 7 seconds behind race leader and teammate Michal Kwiatkowski, he presented a potential new leader. He was joined by Geraint Thomas (Sky, +13 seconds) and Lars Boom (Astana, +10 seconds). Matthi Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) bridged across, but at 59 seconds on GC, he was less of a threat.
Lotto Soudal, LottoNl-Jumbo and Lampre brought the gap down to shouting distance, and Breschel threw in the towel, leaving the other three to fight to hold their lead.
The trio couldn't hold off the chase from Lotto-Soudal, and with 1.6km to go they were caught and the sprint was on.
Greipel lit out first and managed to hold off the charge from Degenkolb and Arnaud Demare to take his first win of Paris-Nice.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal||4:30:18|
|2||Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Soudal||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Daniel Mclay (GBr) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Gert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Christian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdge||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Team Katusha||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky||Row 46 - Cell 2|
|48||Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 51 - Cell 2|
|53||Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 59 - Cell 2|
|61||Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 60 - Cell 2|
|62||Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 61 - Cell 2|
|63||Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|64||Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|65||Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|66||Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-Merida||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Michal Golas (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal||Row 67 - Cell 2|
|69||Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 68 - Cell 2|
|70||Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling||Row 69 - Cell 2|
|71||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida||Row 70 - Cell 2|
|72||Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha||Row 71 - Cell 2|
|73||Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 72 - Cell 2|
|74||Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha||Row 73 - Cell 2|
|75||Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 74 - Cell 2|
|76||Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 75 - Cell 2|
|77||Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 76 - Cell 2|
|78||Yury Trofimov (Rus) Team Katusha||Row 77 - Cell 2|
|79||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 78 - Cell 2|
|80||Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge||Row 79 - Cell 2|
|81||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|82||Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|83||Maxime Bouet (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 82 - Cell 2|
|84||Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|85||Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana Pro Team||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|86||Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|87||Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|88||Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|89||Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|90||Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|91||Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|92||Egor Silin (Rus) Team Katusha||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|93||Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|94||Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|95||Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|96||Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|97||Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 96 - Cell 2|
|98||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|99||Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|100||Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|101||Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|102||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 101 - Cell 2|
|103||Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 102 - Cell 2|
|104||Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 103 - Cell 2|
|105||Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 104 - Cell 2|
|106||George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 105 - Cell 2|
|107||Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 106 - Cell 2|
|108||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky||Row 107 - Cell 2|
|109||Sergio Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 108 - Cell 2|
|110||Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team||Row 109 - Cell 2|
|111||Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement||Row 110 - Cell 2|
|112||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal||Row 111 - Cell 2|
|113||Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 112 - Cell 2|
|114||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal||Row 113 - Cell 2|
|115||Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 114 - Cell 2|
|116||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal||Row 115 - Cell 2|
|117||Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek Factory Racing||Row 116 - Cell 2|
|118||Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing||Row 117 - Cell 2|
|119||Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 118 - Cell 2|
|120||Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 119 - Cell 2|
|121||Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky||Row 120 - Cell 2|
|122||Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 121 - Cell 2|
|123||Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek Factory Racing||Row 122 - Cell 2|
|124||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 123 - Cell 2|
|125||Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team||Row 124 - Cell 2|
|126||Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 125 - Cell 2|
|127||Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha||Row 126 - Cell 2|
|128||Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida||Row 127 - Cell 2|
|129||Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 128 - Cell 2|
|130||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge||0:00:23|
|131||Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge||Row 130 - Cell 2|
|132||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal||0:00:24|
|133||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal||Row 132 - Cell 2|
|134||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step||0:00:27|
|135||Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 134 - Cell 2|
|136||Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 135 - Cell 2|
|137||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar||Row 136 - Cell 2|
|138||Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha||Row 137 - Cell 2|
|139||Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 138 - Cell 2|
|140||Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing||Row 139 - Cell 2|
|141||Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge||Row 140 - Cell 2|
|142||Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky||Row 141 - Cell 2|
|143||William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 142 - Cell 2|
|144||Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 143 - Cell 2|
|145||Edward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 144 - Cell 2|
|146||Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky||Row 145 - Cell 2|
|147||Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||Row 146 - Cell 2|
|148||Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr||0:00:33|
|149||Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin||0:00:42|
|150||Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing||0:00:53|
|151||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida||Row 150 - Cell 2|
|152||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:01:12|
|153||David Tanner (Aus) IAM Cycling||0:01:26|
|154||Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge||Row 153 - Cell 2|
|155||Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge||0:02:08|
|156||Mario Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||0:03:38|
|157||Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:03:39|
|158||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar||0:05:|