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Paris - Nice 2017: Stage 2

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Day 2 of Paris-Nice and it's a damp day out there for the riders. The riders have just passed through kilometre zero and the racing is on. 

There's only been one day of racing but there was plenty to digest overnight, particularly the disqualification of Romain Bardet. The Frenchman was kicked off the race for taking an illegal tow from his team car. He later apologised for his actions

Arnaud Demare won yesterday's opening stage, meaning that he is the race leader today. His FDJ team posted a picture of him pinning his numbers onto the yellow jersey in what looks like the back of a nightclub, but its probably the team bus...

This was how it finished yesterday with Demare outkicking Julian Alaphilippe. 

Five kilometres in and the bunch is all together at the moment. There are five riders missing from the peloton today. Michael Schar (BMC), Matteo Bono (UAD) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) were all DNFs yesterday, with Schar breaking his collarbone and iliac bone. Romain Bardet was disqualified by the race jury while Jonathan Hivert missed the time cut.

A crash has taken down Tony Martin and Borut Bozic but the pair are back on their way. Meanwhile, nine riders have jumped off the front with Romain Hardy leading the escapees over the first climb the Cote des Granges-le-Roi.

15 seconds separate the nine riders from the chasing peloton as snow begins to fall on the pack. 

The gap to the escapees is growing and stands around 30 seconds. As the peloton chases, it has split into two parts. The nine up front are: Romain Hardy (Fortuneo Vital Concept), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Sam Oomen (Sunweb), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale), Oliver Naesen (Ag2R), Marc Soler (Movistar), Manuele Mori (UAE), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) and Delio Fernandez (Delko-Marseille).

Pierre Rolland isn't enjoying these conditions and he's been dropped right to the back of the peloton. The weather is going to be another big factor today. 

As well as Paris-Nice, there was racing over in Italy at the weekend. Michal Kwiatkowski won his second Strade Bianche and we got a few pictures of his white road spattered Pinarello F10 afterwards. Take a look at his bike here

The fast pace of the peloton isn't only doing damage behind. The nine leaders have had their lead cut to just 15 seconds. 

After 28 kilometres its gruppo compatto. The peloton wasn't going to let that one go too easily, especially with the conditions out there. 

Alberto Contador will be looking to fare better in the conditions out there. He had a bad time of it on day 1, losing over a minute to the leading group. Read all about it here

Courtesy of the organisers, this is the chaos out there on the roads. 

Reports of a crash in the first group. No news on who was involved. The riders are through the intermediate sprint in Poussay, with John Degenkolb taking the full points available. 

There are bonus seconds available in the intermediate sprint and Julian Alaphilippe took second place, earning him two seconds and putting him just two seconds behind Demare in the yellow jersey. 

There has been a person furiously totting up the numbers and at the last count there are just 50 riders in the front group. Arnaud Demare has made the cut, Degekolb, Alaphilippe and Hardy have too. No news on the GC contenders. There is 35 seconds between the leading group and the chasers. 

154km remaining from 192km

Kittel, Greipel and Matthews have all reportedly made it into the leading group but Bryan Coquard hasn't been so lucky. The lightweight Frenchman has been dropped. 

Contador and Kristoff are also up there. The chasers are making some ground however and there's just 15 seconds between them and the Demare group. Just 42 kilometres of racing under the belt this afternoon. 

This is a very attritional start to the day. After making the first group initially, Porte and Contador are struggling. They have been dropped, as has Sergio Henao. Only 22 riders remaining in that leading group. 

The bunch has been flying along at 50kph over the first hour of racing. 

Porte is struggling even more than some of his rivals and has been dropped back further through the groups. He'll need his team to rally around him if he doesn't want to lose too much time. 

These are the 22 that have battled it into the front group: Degenkolb, Kristoff, Gallopin, Greipel, Alaphilippe, Kittel, Gorka Izaguirre, Roosen Wynants, Demare, Molard, Sarreau, Lursenko, Laporte, Lemoine, Barguil, Oomen, Swift, Bennett, Smukulis.

Most of the sprinters are in there but the GC riders have mostly been dropped. Gallopin, Alaphilippe and Barguil the only real GC riders in that leading group of 22.

Another smaller group has joined forces with the leaders, making the group up to 36. Contador and Dan Martin are 35 seconds behind while Porte is a bit further down the road. 

Andre Greipel suffers a puncture. Not unexpected in these sorts of conditions, but it means he's lost ground on the front group. 

The make-up of this front group is not consistent as others struggle in the conditions. As well as Greipel, Michael Matthews, Warren Barguil, Mathew Hayman, Kristijan Koren, Sam Oomen, Christophe Lemoine, Gorka Izagirre and Dylan Groenewegen have all been dropped from the first group.

Maxime Bouet has reportedly stepped off the bike. That makes him the sixth rider to leave the race already. 

An updated view of that front group. These are the riders up there after we had two groups come together and several were dropped. Degenkolb, Kristoff, Gallopin, Alaphilippe, Kittel, Roosen, Wynants, Demare, Konovalovas, Molard, Sarreau, Lutsenko, Laporte, Swift, Bennett, Smukulis, Zakarin, Wagner, Henao, Knees, Rowe, Senechal, Soupe and Hardy.

A time check has just come in for Porte. The Australian is 2:40 back on the leading group, which puts him at around 2 minutes behind his GC rivals. 

While Porte is well back, BMC Racing still has Roche in one of the earlier chasing groups. 

It's all change again up front. Just 13 remain in that leading group. They are: Degenkolb, Kristoff, Bystrom, Gallopin, Alaphilippe, Kittel, Demare, Laporte, Swift, Bennett, Zakarin, Henao, Rowe.

Ok, so we now have a group of 20 up there with a few more riders making it in.  The additional riders are Roosen, Wynants, Cimolai, Konovalovas, Sarreau, Senechal, Soupe, and Siskevicius.

Meanwhile, further back down the road, Martin has been dropped by the Contador group. 

We hope you're managing to keep up with this as the make-up of all the group keeps changing. The crosswinds are making this a very tough day out for all, in particular those that have to keep tabs on who is where.

Contador is 1:10 behind the leading group at the moment. 

After all of this action, there is still over 100km to go for the riders and with flat and open countryside, the wind is unlikely to relent any time soon. 

Simon Yates has been another big loser during today's stage. The Orica-Scott rider is back with Richie Porte, who is almost 3 minutes back at this point. 

The latest time check for the Contador group is 1:20. At this point, they'll just want to get through the crosswinds with no further time lost and then limit the losses in the latter part of the race. It's going to be a tough ask to bring it back completely. 

The average speed is still pretty high. After two hours of racing, the pack has been going at an average speed of 49kph. 

The gap from the leading group to those behind continues to expand. They now hold a 1:50 advantage over the following riders. 

Here's the Contador group battling at 1:40 down on the leaders

87km remaining from 192km

Here's a shot of the front group, with Arnaud Demare in the leader's yellow jersey, having once again made the front group, along with three of his FDJ teammates. 

Simon Yates has come back up to the Contador group and he has teammates with him to join the frantic chase. 

Richie Porte, however, continues to cede ground, and is now over 4 minutes down

 

Gap falling

55 seconds now for the Contador group. There are still 50-odd riders in there, so they have, in theory, double the firepower of the lead group. 

75km remaining from 192km

Some of the other big names in the Contador group:

45 seconds is the gap, now, with just over 65 kilometres remaining. 

30 seconds now for Contador and co. This is coming back together.

Back together!

52km remaining from 192km

The GC riders behind will be somewhat worried about Gallopin being in that group. The Frenchman is a serious threat if they make some good time on them.

50 seconds for the six leaders with 50km to go. 

Hearing on the grapevine that Porte is almost 5 minutes back from the peloton. We'll try to find out more about his position. This has been a very bad day for the BMC rider. 

Wynants leading the six-man break, which now has 1:20 on the peloton. His face says it all about today's racing. 

Away from the racing, British Cycling has confirmed the name of their new CEO. Julie Harrington will take the helm in what has been a difficult time for the governing body.

41km remaining from 192km

Things have calmed down a lot after that crazy and hectic start but there is still the chance that we could see some more crosswinds before the finish. 1:03 is the gap to the leaders. 

35km remaining from 192km

Gilbert took the points available at the intermediate sprint, giving him three bonus seconds to boot. Gallopin took second with Wynants third. 

And the rain is falling on the riders again. As if today hasn't been hard enough. 

BMC Racing DS Yves Ledanois spoke to French television saying that Richie Porte was lacking the legs today. "He was in the leading group after 40 km and then he vanished. When you can't keep your position in a group, it simply means that you don't have the legs. We'll talk it over tonight in the hotel. We're not sure what's wrong. The team stayed with him, it's normal, he's our leader. Paris-Nice is not over and we're going to try and restore some pride before Nice," said Ledanois. 

The peloton is closing in on the escapees with just 47 seconds separating them. It is Team Sky doing most of the chasing at the moment. 

Interestingly, the teams of several of the big sprinters have riders in that front group. Bystrom for Katusha, Gilbert for Quick-Step and Gallopin for Lotto Soudal. That is why Sky has been forced to work along with FDJ, who are looking after the race leader Demare. 

Of course, LottoNL-Jumbo has Groenewegen, although we haven't spotted him yet in that second group. 

Bonifazio has abandoned the race. That makes seven so far during this race with only two stages. 

22km remaining from 192km

19km remaining from 192km

The riders are heading through some wide open countryside and can see Gilbert up the road but he's making time on them and they string into a long line as they try to chase him down. 36 seconds now for the Belgian champion. 

Arnaud Demare still in that main group. Here he is earlier in the day. 

News is that Nacer Bouhanni has climbed off. He's the third today after Bonifazio and Bouet. 

15km remaining from 192km

With just Philippe Gilbert up the road, FDJ is chasing hard. Gilbert is the virtual race leader at the moment. He started the day 16 seconds down but trimmed that by 3 seconds at the last intermediate sprint. This is a race for the race lead as well as the stage win. 

This is a very determined effort from Gilbert and he's doing well to hold off the peloton to a certain extent. Quick-Step Floors also have Kittel in the peloton so they've got two very good cards to play at the moment. Kittel will have a very relaxed finish if Gilbert can keep this going. It's still 44 seconds now as Katusha lend FDJ a hand. 

The peloton looks like they've eased up. There's not the signature snake-like appearance to the peloton that you get when they're going full chap. They've got a serious headwind at the moment. 

Gilbert is also battling into this headwind and that could hurt him in the final kilometres of this stage. He's got 40 seconds and he's struggling. Only about 40 riders remaining in the chasing peloton. 

9km remaining from 192km

Gilbert looks over and pulls up a bit, is that the end of his day or will he plug on? He's only got 24 seconds now. 

7km remaining from 192km

Lotto Soudal and FDJ at the head of proceedings with a little help from LottoNL-Jumbo. With 6.5km to go, Gilbert is brought back by them. 

More sprinters teams moving up towards the front of the peloton. Sunweb coming up the left side as is Katusha. A few Quick-Step riders in there but no sighting of Kittel yet. He was one of those dropped yesterday. 

This sprint will be a very interesting one. The weather conditions mean that it won't be straightforward. 

One of the Astana riders has jumped off the front. He has a small gap on the peloton. 

3km remaining from 192km

Lutsenko is brought back and Cannondale go on the attack. 

Confirmation that the Cannondale rider on the attack is Kristijan Koren. 

Lots of teams coming up to help the chase.

Koren has only got a few metres but he's still pushing. 

Koren is caught now with just over a kilometre to go. 

Flamme rouge

Albasini goes on the attack.

FDJ is chasing now

Albasini caught with 500 metres to go. 

Peloton has split into pieces.

Colbrelli leads the sprint

Looks like Colbrelli took that ahead of Degenkolb.

Colbrelli in tears at the side of the road. He's had a lot of bad luck so far this season. 

That is Colbrelli's first win for the Bahrain-Merida team. 

Demare finished third, which means he should keep the race lead but we'll wait for confirmation of that. 

Colbrelli really went long on that sprint, going with about 200m to go. It looked like Degenkolb might get him on the line, but the Italian held him off by about half a bike's length. 

This is the full top 10 for stage 2

While Alaphilippe and Gilbert took some time off Demare in the intermediate sprints, the Frenchman has retained his lead for now. 

Unfortunately for the riders, there is more rain expected for tomorrow's stage from Chablis to Chalon-sur-Saône and wind is also expected. So it won't be a straightforward day out tomorrow either.

Sonny Colbrelli winning the stage today, courtesy of Tim de Waele. 

Porte has lost some 14 minutes today. His GC hopes are certainly over at this point but a stage win is still a possibility for him. 

Full results and photos are available from today's stage of Paris-Nice. Click here to take a look.

That is it from us today. We'll have more live coverage of Paris-Nice tomorrow. Keep an eye on Cyclingnews for reaction from today's stage and highlights. 

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