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Paris - Nice 2018: Stage 2


Welcome one and all to coverage of stage 2 of Paris-Nice. The riders have not long rolled out of the start town of Orsonville and we will have racing in the next few minutes. 


The weather isn't brilliant out there, but at 12 degrees and dry I'm sure that the riders will take it. There are some clouds but there is no rain predicted at the moment. 

Arnaud Demare is in the race leader's jersey today after taking the victory yesterday by the skin of his teeth. I've looked at the photo finish umpteen times and I haven't been able to see the difference. Perhaps, I need a stronger glasses prescription. You can read up on what went down yesterday with our report and this is how the top 10 looks after the opening stage.


1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 3:07:29
2 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:04
3 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:06
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:10
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:12
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida


There is at least one non-starter today after Tejay van Garderen was forced to bow out due to a crash. The American, who was supposed to be BMC Racing's general classification leader, crashed twice. The second came as he was inspecting the damage from the first and rode into the back of a stationary car. Read the full story here.


It has been a fast start to the day and the riders have completed almost 10 kilometres already. Attacks have come, but nothing has yet stuck. 


There is a bit of a cross-headwind coming at the riders right now, which will not help those that are trying to make it into the breakaway. 


As we wait for a breakaway to form, you may just have time to read over the news that came from the British government's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee report. The report has been three years in the making and covered a range of sports, including cycling, and called into question some of the practices used by Team Sky. Read more about it here.


There has understandably been plenty of response from the relevant parties following the DCMS report. Bradley Wiggins was one of those mentioned in the reports and he was quick to deny the claims.


POC goes for light, fast and airy with new Ventral aero lid POC skips MIPS liner for its own SPIN system…

@Cyclingnewsfeed Mon, 5th Mar 2018 11:30:03

Some 25 kilometres into the day's racing, we're still waiting for a breakaway to form. 


News in that Rui Costa has abandoned the race. He crashed twice in yesterday's stage and complained of knee pain.


Jakob Fuglsang is another rider that was caught up in crashes during yesterday's frenetic stage. He has been able to carry on but his general classification hopes were dealt a serious blow after he lost 1:48 as a result. Read what the Dane said here.


156km remaining from 187km

The sprinters' teams are at the front of the peloton controlling things at the moment. There's not too much to control for now with still no breakaway.


More of the fallout from the DCMS report that came out last night as MPs call for criminal charges for doping suppliers. This isn't the first time that something like this has been suggested in the UK, while it's already the case in countries such as France. Read the full story here.


Could we have a whole day without a breakaway? I hope not. Although, with crosswinds potentially in the mix later on today, the peloton won't want to give anyone much of an advantage. 


#ParisNice Stage 2 - Unfortunately, @RuiCostaCyclist quit the race after 20 km in the stage. He was suffering for…

@TeamUAEAbuDhabi Mon, 5th Mar 2018 12:03:16

If you haven't had a chance to watch yesterday's dramatic finale, you can watch it here.


More on Costa's abandon from his DS Philippe Mauduit: "He hurt his knee-cap badly but decided to give it a try this morning because Paris-Nice was a major goal for him. He was hoping to recover for the later stages that could suit him. He trained 20 minutes on a home trainer this morning but as soon as the pace was over 250 watts today, he just could not keep up. It's sad," he told the race website.


The peloton is taking it relatively easy now and the average speed over the first hour was a slow 33kph. That is well below the slowest predicted average speed of 40kph.


Yesterday's finish was as close as it could be with Arnaud Demare finally being declared the winner. It was a good day for him and the team's new sponsor Groupama. He said afterwards that he was convinced that it was Gorka Izagirre that had taken the win. 


"Well this one is a great one. I am really not used to sprint like this! All day long, my teammates positioned me perfectly, I think we saw Groupama-FDJ jerseys at the front everywhere. When it started to temporize in the finish, I was sure attacks were going to spring all over the place but, no... I was completely exhausted; my legs were burning so much I told myself I had to start from far away if I was to surprise the others. I could feel it was the only way.


"When I saw Izagirre on my side, I told myself 'well Arnaud, if you give up to the pain, then you won't win. It's happening now!'. So, I threw my bike but I was sure I was still second. When the staff exploded with joy after a few minutes on the line, I felt a very strong emotion. It's my first photo finish and I think it makes the whole thing even stronger - after all the waiting.


"Yesterday, I went to see the finish and I thought it was going to be too complicated for me. But then Micka Delage - who knows me so well - told me 'I'm sure you can do it'. It made me confident. It's extraordinary to win this way in front of my friends, family and new sponsor. For this first one with our new Groupama-FDJ kits, somewhere, I put myself under a little pressure, with a bit more wish to offer them that victory. It is a new chapter for us all and I'm happy, so so happy."


141km remaining from 187km

It looks like the peloton is having a great time out there. Nobody looks that keen to put the hammer down just yet.


You might not be surprised to know that the peloton is still all together with 16km to run before the first intermediate sprint of the day in Patay. 


Away from Paris-Nice and the DCMS report, there is other news about this morning with the Tour de Suisse revealing the route for this year's race. For the first time in almost 20 years, they'll start with a team time trial. Read the full story here.


Eurosport commentator Rob Hatch posted this picture of today's finale. It's not a straightforward sprint to the line. 


FDJ directeur sportif says that it is the predicted winds later that is partly to blame for this slow pace at the start of today's stage.


"Everybody's afraid of the wind and we know it's probably going to be a bunch sprint at the end of the day. Also we're aware that harder stages are ahead of us."


The Frenchman also said that retaining the leader's jersey, which is being worn by Arnaud Demare today, is not the overriding priority. 


"Yesterday's victory was really special because it was unexpected. Today the competition will be even stronger. All the best sprinters will be there. But Arnaud has no complex to make it even if the approach will be different from yesterday. We're going to think about our race and about our sprint, the leader's jersey is not a priority. If we can keep it, fair enough."


More than 50 kilometres into the day it's still gruppo compatto. As FDJ DS Thierry Bricaud pointed out, the chances of a sprint finish are very high today and there are a lot of fast men interested in taking a stage win, particularly with so few chances available. 


Following his win yesterday, Demare is surely the favourite today but there is some stiff competition. Other sprinters here include Alexander Kristoff and Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates), Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), Simon Gerrans (BMC), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Magnus Cort (Astana), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Dan McLay (EF Education First) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).


Apologies, I missed John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) off that list. Given the terrain, someone such as Jurgen Roelandts (BMC) could get into the mix in that finale. 


Cofidis assemble at the front of the bunch as the peloton rides towards the first intermediate sprint but it is Demare that takes the full points at the sprint and the bonus seconds on offer. Julian Alaphilippe crosses the line in second with Christophe Laporte in third. 


The average speed of the peloton has dropped ever so slightly to 32.9kph. If the peloton continues at his pace then they will finish well behind schedule. At present, they are almost 30 minutes behind the slowest predicted schedule. 


Meanwhile, UK Anti-Doping is the latest to respond to the DCMS committee report, saying that they will not re-open their investigation into the so-called Jiffy bag scandal. However, they have called for Tramadol and corticosteroids to be banned outright in sport. Read their full response here.


MISSING: One breakaway. Please notify us if you see one. After two hours of racing, the group remains together chugging along at relatively sedate pace. 


Looking back to the results of the earlier sprint. It is interesting to note that Alaphilippe was up there. The couple of seconds he's got has edged him closer to GC rival Izagirre and put him further ahead of several riders behind. With Paris-Nice decided on just a few seconds in the last couple of years, they could be crucial at the end of the week. 


A quick reminder of the general classification standings as they were this morning. 


1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 3:07:29
2 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:04
3 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:06
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:10
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:12
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida


Peter Sagan hits the ski slopes - Video World champion cross trains during high-altitude camp…

@Cyclingnewsfeed Mon, 5th Mar 2018 13:30:33

The pace is beginning to rise. could we be about to see some action. There is still a cross headwind coming a the peloton, but it has moved to the right side of the road. The gusts are quite light, so nothing that could cause some echelons at this moment in time. 


98km remaining from 187km

With less than 100km to go, the riders have almost reached the halfway point of the day. 


Of course, this week is a busy week of racing as it always is with Tirreno-Adriatico beginning on Wednesday. Read Stephen Farrand's preview of the race of the two seas.


You can also flick through our tech gallery from Strade Bianche last weekend as riders tried to protect themselves from the cold and rain that battered the course.


Say it quietly or we might frighten them, but I've heard tell of a breakaway. Six riders have 40 seconds on the bunch. 


It might be purely coincidence, but the peloton has sprung into life just as television pictures are about to be broadcast. I'll bring you the names of the escapees as soon as I can get them. 


Here we go!! The names of the riders who have ridden off the front are: Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Mérida), Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Olivier Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Samsic), Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo)


There is little surprise that De Gendt is in that group. He's not seen a breakaway he doesn't like and has been on the front for a lot of today. There is some serious firepower in that move and if those crosswinds do come then they could well stay away. 


79km remaining from 187km

The race website reporting that it was De Gendt who kick-started things. This could be a good plan for Lotto-Soudal, who has Greipel if it does come down to a sprint. The German showed in Abu Dhabi that he's climbing pretty well so that final rise shouldn't be an issue for him. 


The attack from those six riders has really ramped up the pace in the bunch to close to 50kph. The peloton is wary of them and understandably so. They've not given them much room and the gap remains between 30 to 40 seconds. 


71km remaining from 187km

FDJ is doing the chasing at the front of the peloton and they're stringing the peloton out with the pace that they're setting. 


Katusha and Cofidis are helping with the chasing down of this six-rider group. Just 12 seconds remain for them and it doesn't look like they will last too much longer. 


Four of the six excapees have been brought back now with just Machado and Boaro left with 37 seconds on the peloton. 


With some of the stronger members of that breakaway being brought back, the remaining two have expanded their advantage to 43 seconds. Guys like Naesen, De Gendt and Boom were much to strong to let have much room out front. De Gendt has gone back to his role on the front of the peloton, working for Greipel. 


Arnaud Demare back at the car a little earlier on in the yellow jersey of race leader. His team say that it's not their priority to keep it, but if he can win again today then he'll surely be in it again tomorrow. 


52km remaining from 187km

As the peloton decides that this is the time to have a comfort break, the advantage of the two up front has gone out to 1:54. FDJ continues to set the pace on the front. 


If you missed the news earlier today, the British Goverment's investigation into doping in sport, which has been two years in the making, came out overnight. It made some serious accusations towards British Cycling and Team Sky. You can read the full story here.


You can also read the response from British Cycling to the publication of the DCMS report here


Meanwhile, the gap to the two escapees is now 2:56.


There is still plenty of kilometres left for the peloton to bring these two back, but they don't want to cut it too fine. They might just be two, but they're very experienced.


There are still plenty of kilometres left for the peloton to bring these two back, but they don't want to cut it too fine. They might just be two, but they're very experienced.


After going away in the break a little while back, Boom has now moved to the front to help out FDJ with the chase. He's working for team leader Dylan Groenewegen, who has been on fabulous form this season so far. He won a stage out in Dubai to kick-start his year, before returning to Europe and winning two stages at the Volta ao Algarve and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. 

With the increase in pace, the average speed has gone up to 38.1kph. It was just 33kph over the first two hours. We're still a bit behind the slowest predicted average speed of 40kph. 


32km remaining from 187km

We now have several teams working on the front with Lotto Soudal also pitching in. The result is that the gap is coming down ever so slowly to 2:22. The pace is not full gas just yet, but the race is on.


Quick-Step Floors also have Tim Declercq up there as the gap drops below the two-minute mark. With 28 kilometres to go, this is well under control at the moment.


A mechanical issue for Christophe Laporte. 


Laporte is given a new bike and he's on his way now. No teammates back to help him just yet. 


Edet is now back with him. Laporte is having a very good season so far with three wins on the board between Etoile de Besseges and Tour Cycliste International La Provence. He was up there yesterday and could take the race lead if he was to win today. 


Plenty of work going on at the front of the bunch to try and take the two leaders back.


19km remaining from 187km

At the start of the day, the teams were worried that cross winds could cause some havoc. Nothing has materialised yet as the peloton cuts the break's lead to just 1:07.


As the peloton passes by the sign denoting 20 kilometres to go, there is a lot of movement on the front of of the bunch. Trek-Segafredo, EF Education First, Team Sky, AG2R La Mondiale are all now trying to muscle their way forward. The intermediate sprint is coming up soon. 


Quick-Step and Trek-Segafredo have rivals trains on the front of the bunch. There will be just one point available for the peloton in this intermediate sprint with this leading pair set to take first and second. 


With a kilometre to the intermediate sprint, the leaders have just 46 seconds. 


The leaders roll through the sprint. They're not interested in the points and seconds on offer. They just want to make sure they have as much time out front as possible. From the peloton, Quick-Step set up Alaphilippe perfectly to take the final second and point. AG2R La Mondiale tried to get Gallopin up there but his compatriot was too strong. That's three bonus seconds for Alaphilippe today. 


12km remaining from 187km

There is a brief split as a result of that push on and he leaders see their advantage cut to 20 seconds. 


The peloton is back together after that small split. Just 10 seconds left for the escapees as the rain begins to fall. 


Launched by the excellent @3sdevenyns, @alafpolak takes one more second at the second intermediate sprint. #WayToRide #ParisNice

@quickstepteam Mon, 5th Mar 2018 15:40:27

10km remaining from 187km

The two leaders look over their shoulders, they can hear the eerie hum of a peloton behind them. It's only a matter of time before they're caught. 


Machado and Boaro are not ready to give up yet. They're pushing on as the peloton holds them at five seconds. 


Here they are a little earlier on today


It is mostly Machado keeping this breakaway ahead but the peloton is not going full bore at the moment. They know that they can shut this down pretty quickly once they do put the hammer down. 


4km remaining from 187km

A bit of a spread in the peloton as a few riders get a bit too close together. Thankfully everyone stays upright and they've still got these two leaders out front. 


A few riders almost take the wrong way around a roundabout and lose a lot of positions in the bunch. Alexander Kristoff is one of those who has dropped back. One of the Delko Marseiille riders has also come down as the jostling for position really begins in the peloton. 


3km remaining from 187km

While all of that was going on, the breakaway has been caught. Lotto Soudal now leading the way. 


The peloton has been on some big, wide roads but they're now on much narrower roads and the surface leaves a lot to be desired. 


2km remaining from 187km

Sunweb and Bora now moving to the front. UAE have also got Kristoff up towards the front. 


Quick-Step Floors now trying to get into position and Arnaud Demare is riding on the coattails on some of the other trains. 


1km remaining from 187km

Quick-Step are really putting the hammer down with Lampaert. This is a tough pace. 


The peloton has thinned out drastically as the flamme rouge beckons. 


Quick-Step has split the front. Two riders m=ing off the front.


Bora Hansgrohe have to shut it down


It's back together now as the sprint winds up.


Groenewegen leads


Groenewegen wins!!!


Viviani took second with Greipel in third place


That was one messy sprint


The pace of Quick-Step's lead-out ended up with two riders going off the front. They were quickly brought back but that left Viviani very much on his own. Sinkeldam led things out for Demare but Groenwegen was much too fast for everyone. 


Groenewegen had to round Sam Bennett, who had gone early but was flagging, and he took Viviani in his wheel. The Italian couldn't pass the Dutchman, who is in flying form at the moment. 


With that result, Demare should still be in the race lead but we will have to wait for confirmation. 


Groenwegen was short and to the point with his post-stage comments. 


"I feel very good. Also, the team is very strong and do a very good job in the final. It was a hard sprint with a small climb on the end but I was able to sprint for the win, which was nice.


"The stage was very easy but the final was hard but we got into a good position in the final corner and then I sprinted and I won."


Confirmation that Demare has extended his lead to 10 second after there was a small split in the bunch in that finale. Julian Alaphilippe is now in second place after hovering up those bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints. 


Ok, the jury has made an adjustment to the overall classification after they have given the peloton the same time as the winner. Izagirre is back into second place now at seven seconds with Laporte in third and Alaphilippe is fourth now. 


So, this is how the stage ended 


1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 04:51:31
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
5 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
6 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
8 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
9 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
10 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida


And this is how the general classification looks as a result.


1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 07:58:57
2 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:07
3 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00:00:08
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:10
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:13
6 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:15
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott
9 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
10 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida


To re-live today's action (well, at least the second half of the day), you can read our report here, where you'll also find results and a gallery.


Groenewegen charging to the finish line


Journalists, fans and his brother Bryan, everyone wanted to hear @alafpolak's thoughts at the end of #ParisNice sta…

@quickstepteam Mon, 5th Mar 2018 16:30:37

Arnaud Demare on the podium to collect another yellow jersey.


.@dylangroenewegen wins stage 2 at Paris-Nice Full results, report and gallery at Photo:…

@Cyclingnewsfeed Mon, 5th Mar 2018 16:45:15

That is it for our live coverage of stage 2 of Paris-Nice. Tune in tomorrow for coverage of stage 3. Until then.


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