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Paris-Nice stage 2 - How it happened live


On paper, stage 2 of Paris-Nice looks like one for the sprinters. In practice, just about anything could happen on the exposed 164km run to Fontainebleau, even if the breeze is relatively gentle for the time being. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) was already on the offensive yesterday, after all, while Jonas Vingegaard's Jumbo-Visma squad, as we know, are not shy about trying to steal an early march at this race. 

Thanks to his stage win yesterday, Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) wears the first yellow jersey of this Paris-Nice, four seconds ahead of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). The full standings are below courtesy of First Cycling.

The peloton is currently negotiating the neutralised zone in Bazainville, with the race due to hit kilometre zero at 13.00 CET. The temperature is a chilly 5°C and the slate grey sky could have been lifted from a Jacques Brel chanson, but - to the relief of many - there is no significant breeze to speak of. 

As sure as night follows day, Tadej Pogacar threw himself into the offensive on yesterday's opening stage, attacking on the Côte de Milon-la-Chapelle with 20km to go and snagging six bonus seconds for his trouble. The Slovenian stole an early march on his rival Vingegaard. On the evidence of their duel by correspondance on the Iberian Peninsula last month, mind, we can perhaps anticipate a reaction from the Dane at some point - or, of course, another onslaught from Pogacar. "At the start, I felt a bit shit, but every hour in I felt a little better," Pogacar said on Sunday. "So I hope the next days will allow me to do something." Read more here.


Tim Merlier

(Image credit: Getty)


No response from the peloton, and Gregaard opts to press on alone, quickly pushing his advantage out towards the one-minute mark.


Gregaard was already in the break yesterday, spending 122km off the front with Paul Ourselin, and he also caught the eye with an attacking display on stage 3 of last month's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, eventually placing third behind Simone Velasco and Bob Jungels in Sagunto as they just about fended off the bunch. The 26-year-old is in his second season at Uno-X, having previously spent three campaigns in Astana colours.


Tirreno-Adriatico gets underway today, with live coverage of the opening time trial available here, but the two big WorldTour events aren't the only races making headlines today. Caleb Ewan thought he had won yesterday's GP Monseré when he dived for the line with Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) in Roeselare, and the Australian was even more convinced of his case after seeing some finish line photos. The commissaires, however, gave the verdict to Thijssen... Read more here.


Pogacar's aggressive start to Paris-Nice yesterday was in keeping with the tenor of his season thus far. His default setting has always been 'attack,' at least after his 2020 Tour de France win, but that approach seems even more pronounced this year. Our columnist Philippa York has wondered if it's a byproduct of his defeat to Vingegaard at last year's Tour. "He is the type of rider that will pounce at any moment if he sees an opportunity, and he does have a hunger to win that’s exceptional, but I get the feeling there’s also a certain amount of reassurance going on here," Philippa writes. "He needs to know he’s still number one and still the reference. He needs to convince himself and everyone else that he only lost the Tour last year because of tactical errors." Read Philippa's preview of the latest instalment of Pogacar v Vingegaard here.


Gregaard cover a little over 44km in the first hour of racing, and the Dane is now approaching the first of the day's two classified climbs. He's unlikely to upset the sprinters this afternoon, but he should divest Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) of the king of the mountains jersey. He lies a point behind Powless in the standings and there are three points on offer to the first man to the top of each of the day's category 3 climbs.

Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X) on the attack on stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

The lone escapee Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X) presses on ahead of the peloton. (Image credit: Getty)



Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) led the peloton over the Côte des Granges-le-Roi, incidentially, leaving Gregaard as the virtual king of the mountains, two points ahead of Powless. The Dane can buttress that lead still further if he survives another 30km or so in front until the Côte de Méréville.


Tim Merlier

Tim Merlier's Soudal-QuickStep team have performed the bulk of the chasing thus far. (Image credit: Getty)

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar wrapped against the elements on stage 2 of Paris-Nice. (Image credit: Getty)



The peloton is stitched back together after a frantic chase by TotalEnergies. Meanwhile, Gregaard's buffer has been pared back to a minute or so thanks to that significant uptick in urgency.


Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and Trek-Segafredo are among the teams claiming real estate at the head of the peloton on this exposed section of the route. Rohan Dennis is prominent on behalf of his leader Jonas Vingegaard.



Gregaard takes a long look back over his shoulder at the summit and he has the mien of a man ready to sit up and wait for the fast-closing peloton, which is less than 50 seconds behind. In any case, his mission for the day is accomplished. 


Speaking of tomorrow's novel team time trial, it has been confirmed that teams will set out at three-minute intervals rather than five-minute intervals. The revision to the start times has been made to help alleviate the pressure on the policing service, given that Tuesday is a day of national strike in protest against pension reform in France. 




There is scarcely a curve in the road for the last ten miles today apart from the roundabout the bunch will have to negotiate in the final kilometre. Before that, however, there is a sharp left-hand turn to come at Puiseaux with 29km to go, and there will be a fierce battle for positions ahead of it. 


Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates, Soudal-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma are all currently occupying the box seats at the front of the peloton. The skies remain slate grey and the mercury is still low, but the conditions are mercifully still.





Paris-Nice stage 2

The peloton barrels towards the finish in Fontainebleau (Image credit: Getty)





Jonas Vingegaard Paris-Nice stage 2

Jonas Vingegaard has been perched just a few places back from the front all afternoon. (Image credit: Getty)






Pogacar has now picked up 12 seconds in bonuses on Vingegaard in two days. Van Hooydonck was parked on Pogacar's wheel, but he didn't have the speed to live with the Slovenian, who is now the virtual overall leader - though that could all change depending on how Tim Merlier and Sam Bennett fare in the inevitable bunch sprint. 

Matthews, incidentally, didn't seem unduly upset at losing out to his training partner Pogacar in that sprint. It's always useful to have friends in the peloton.


Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar won the intermediate sprint to pick up six more bonus seconds. (Image credit: Getty)










Jumbo-Visma lead Olav Kooij through the sweeping roundabout, before Trek-Segafredo open the sprint for Mads Pedersen...

Mads Pedersen hits the front in the finishing straight but Olav Kooij is putting up fierce resistance...

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) wins stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) took second place ahead of Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easypost).

Despite Pogacar's haul of bonus seconds, it appears that Mads Pedersen will take command of the yellow jersey.


FONTAINEBLEAU FRANCE MARCH 06 A general view of Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team TrekSegafredo Olav Kooij of The Netherlands and Team JumboVisma Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark and Team EF Education Easypost Matis Louvel of France and Team Arka Samsic Arnaud Demare of France and Team Groupama FDJ Cees Bol of The Netherlands and Astana Qazaqstan Team Alexis Renard of France and Team Cofidis sprint at finish line during the 81st Paris Nice 2023 Stage 2 a 1637km stage from Bazainville to Fontainebleau ParisNice on March 06 2023 in Fontainebleau France Photo by Alex BroadwayGetty Images

(Image credit: Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

We haven't got a full rundown of who went down in that crash inside the final kilometre, but it certainly caused disruption to sprint trains even among those who didn't fall. Danny van Poppel kicked very early believing his Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Sam Bennett was on his wheel, for instance, but the Irishman had lost contact and was a little further back.

General classification after stage 2

Mads Pedesen wins stage 2 of Paris-Nice ahead of Olav Kooij

(Image credit: Getty)

Mads Pedersen

(Image credit: Getty)

Mads Pedersen Paris-Nice yellow jersey

Mads Pedersen in the yellow jersey of race leader. (Image credit: Getty)

As anticipated, that late roundabout played a key role in how the stage unfurled. Jumbo-Visma led through the roundabout, placing Kooij in an ideal place, while Pedersen was also well marshalled by Alex Kirsch. Yesterday's most rapid finishers, Merlier, Bennett and De Lie, meanwhile, lost vital positions at that point, and they were never a factor in the sprint. Merlier took 14th, Bennett was 20th, while De Lie had to settle for 27th. 

That was a towering sprint from Pedersen, incidentally. As he stuck for home, Kooij was lined up on his wheel, and the Dutchman then unleashed a crisp sprint that saw edge past Pedersen. The former world champion, however, was able to summon up the strength to kick again. For good measure, his dive to the line was perfectly timed and that was enough to pip Kooij to the line. Pedersen, sixth on his Milan-San Remo debut a year ago, has the distinct look of a man hitting form for La Primavera...

Tadej Pogacar

(Image credit: Getty)

FONTAINEBLEAU FRANCE MARCH 06 Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team TrekSegafredo celebrates at podium as stage winner during the 81st Paris Nice 2023 Stage 2 a 1637km stage from Bazainville to Fontainebleau ParisNice on March 06 2023 in Fontainebleau France Photo by Alex BroadwayGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thanks for joining today's live coverage of Paris-Nice. A full report is available here, with all the news - including Tadej Pogacar's reaction - still to follow. 

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