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Tour de la Provence stage 2 - Live coverage

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Hello there and welcome along as we head for the hills at the Tour de la Provence. We've had a prologue TT, we've had a sprint (albeit from a small echelon), and while the proper mountains are coming on Sunday, today we have an exciting and open-ended punchy stage from Arles to Manosque.

As we pick up the action, the riders have reached Manosque after the journey from the coast, and are currently doing a 75km finishing loop, where the two main climbs are found. 

We have a five-rider breakaway up the road, with a lead of 4:30 over a peloton that's being led by Cofidis. 

Here are the riders in the break

Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels)

Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies)

Evaldas Siskevicius (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Metropole)

Kevin Besson (Nice Metropole Cote d’Azur)

Tony Hurel (St Michel-Auber 98)

The breakaway are into the final kilometre of the circuit and we're now previewing what will be the final incline to the finish line. 

The final haul to the line actually begins with 2km to go, where the road heads uphill after a dip down. This is a parcours in general that could suit any number of riders but this looks like a finish for the puncheurs rather than the more sprinters. Julian Alaphilippe has to be a candidate, but it actually looks perfect for Ethan Hayter. Ineos have won both stages so far - can they make it three?

Ineos won the prologue through Ganna and stage 1 through Viviani, and they may win with Hayer today, but they probably won't be winning Sunday's summit finish or the overall title. That's because their leader Richard Carapaz has tested positive for COVID-19 and has gone home. Full story here.

After the finish line, it's straight onto the Col de la Mort d'Imbert, the first of two categorised climbs on this final loop. It's a cat-3 ascent, measuring 5km at 3.6%.

59km to go

The break reach the top of the Col de la Mort d'Imbert, and Ourselin springs clear to take maximum mountains points ahead of Besson.

Cofidis, QuickStep, and Ineos combine in the bunch and they're eating into the break's lead now. 3:30 is the gap.

Ourselin and Besson are both now on three points for the mountains classification, so it'll come down to the Col de l'Aire dei Masco in around 20km time. 

Here's what world champion Julian Alaphilippe had to say ahead of the stage

"We're in a pretty good situation, it's true. Today's stage sees things start to get a bit difficult. The objective is to finish in the front group and why not try to win the stage. We have seen it's a good opportunity for us to try and win, and then also stay well placed ahead of the queen stage tomorrow. The finish suits me well but still, there are some fast guys here, like Viviani, and Bryan Coquard, who's in good form."

Into the final 50km and the gap is down to three minutes.

QuickStep lift the pace at the head of the bunch and it looks like it's going into a echelon shape for a second before they turn left. It's not full gas but it's speeding up now. 

Groupama-FDJ hit the front now through Bruno Armirail. They have Arnaud Demare, who's the sort of sprinter who can think about winning on this final incline. 

Puccio is on the front now for Ineos, QuickStep have posted Serry. Cofidis, who appear to believe in Coquard's chances today, have stepped back for now. 

Should TT bikes be banned? Should gravel be banned?

Our top story today sees Chris Froome take on a couple of hot topics. The four-time Tour de France champ argues that TTs should be raced on road bikes in the interests of safety and fairness, and suggests off-roading should be limited to the Classics. Here's the full story.

The race continues on rolling roads towards this next harder climb. The five leaders press on but their lead is down to just over two minutes. 

Cofidis are back on the front now. DSM have also set up on the left and teams like Arkea and Movistar are muscling through on the right.

We're on the approach to the climb and this is looking a little bit sprint run-in-y. All the teams want a good position for the start of the climb.

The Col de l'Aire dei Masco is a cat-2 climb that measures 6km at 4.6% and tops out with 27km to go.

Onto a narrow country lane and things are more blocked up here, with not much chance to move up through the pack. 

33km to go

The five breakaway riders start the climb with a lead of 1:50.

Siskevicius is immediately dropped. 

Serry leads the bunch onto the climb.

Hurel is the next rider dropped from the break.

Attack! Cofidis launch en masse from the bunch...

Maybe they were just trying to raise the pace but they've gone so hard that they have a small gap with three riders. 

A couple of riders get on terms and now FDJ are scrambling to close the gap. 

Armirail shuts the gap and the bunch remains lined out up this climb.

Cofidis continue their charge and it's still on the verge of splitting.

Victor Lafay is the rider drilling it for Cofidis here, with Coquard right up there. Big display from the French team today.

There's a rider from Arkea and one from Nice Metropole sitting behind the Cofidis trio as the FDJ rider struggles to hold the wheel and it's splits again.

The Nice Metropole riders attacks! Huge attack

It's Andrea Mifsud for the French team and he flies past Siskevicius and Hurel. He has a decent gap. 

Besson is the next rider fropped from the break. Ourselin and Gougeard continue up the climb but their lead is down to 1:07 over the bunch.

Mifsud is holding a lead of around 10 seconds over the bunch.

Viviani is dropped. Luke Rowe drops back to wait for the Ineos sprinter.

The leading duo head towards the summit now.

27km to go

Ourselin leads the way over the top of the Col de l'Aire dei Masco, Gougeard in his wheel. In doing so he secures the mountains jersey for tomorrow. The duo have a lead of one minute over a reduced peloton.

Cofidis sweep up the fading Mifsud as they continue to lead the reduced bunch over the top of the climb, at one minute.

A sweeping descent now and Cofidis are happy to remain in charge. 

Ourselin and Gougeard are holding their own here, taking risks and heading downhill at at least the same rate. They'll start to lose time again on the rolling terrain ahead of the finish. 

More little splits in the bunch as Cofidis continue to drill this. 

There's a group of 30 that has been dropped over that climb. Viviani is there. 

Hayter is dangling off the back of the main bunch, looking nervy through some of these bends.

The road is tilting upgill again and Cofidis continue with three riders on the front. Trek put a couple of riders up there behind them. 

17km to go

Gougeard attacks Ourselin!

The Frenchman prizes open a gap and he's alone. He still has 50 seconds over the bunch.

Victor Lafay is back on the front for Cofidis. He's up there with Pierre-Luc Perichon and Ruben Fernandez. 

Trek have five riders next in line, while Alaphilippe has three teammates with him behind. 

Coquard is further down the bunch but is there for Cofidis, who also have young Axel Zingle as a potential shout today.

Gougeard is doing really well here. He has definitively dropped Ourselin and, more importantly, he's holding off the peloton. He has only lost a few seconds in the last few kilometres. 45 seconds with 13km to go!

Ourselin is caught as Lafay continues to lead the main peloton. 

Lafay is giving it his all but he's not doing any damage to Gougeard here. The solo leader is back up to 49 seconds......

Cofidis are going to need to change riders soon, or ask for help from other teams. 

Race leader Ganna is present and correct near the back of the bunch. Unclear where Hayter is. 

A change now as the Cofidis train breaks up. 

QuickStep post a rider to the front as the road dips downhill. 

Into the final 10km and Gougeard still has 46 seconds.

Upset on the cards?

Gougeard still has 45 seconds with 8.5km to go.

Fernandez peels off and now Cofidis have burnt their matches. 

Louis Vervaeke takes it up for QuickStep.

Trek have four riders lined up behind the QuickStep rider. 

The road tilts uphill for Gougeard and now he's starting to lose ground. 38 seconds now, 37, 35...!

Gougeard will find some downhill roads from 5km to go but with 2km left it ramps up again all the way to the finish, where he'll surely be smothered as the big names surge for the finish.

Vervaeke continues to ride on the front. Trek aren't riding despite having four riders right behind. 

Elissonde, Cataldo, Kamp, Ghebreigzabhier are there for Trek.

AG2R take responsibility now. They have Vendrame and Paret-Peintre.

5km to go

5km to go on stage 2 of the Tour de la Provence and breakaway rider Alexis Gougeard has a lead of 27 seconds over a reduced peloton. 

Gougeard hasn't quite hit the top of that climb. He's grinding over this incline now and drops to 20 seconds. He's fading.

A big surge as the bunch crests the lip of that climb. Downhill now.

TotalEnergies have taken pole position. Alaphilippe is there with teammates.

Demare is also up there and he's a real danger man.

The kilometres are ticking down rapidly now. Gougeard welcomes the downhill and digs in with 3km to go. 15 seconds is his lead.

Mouth agape, Gougeard looks down at his legs and tells them to keep working. 2.5km to go now and the road has flattened out and is going to kick up

Big acceleration from QuickStep, and it's splitting!

It's Van Wilder and he has almost immediately shut the gap to Gougeard with 2km to go. 

Total hit the front again with 1.7km to go.

Hello again Cofidis. Perichon pings off the front with 1500 to go

He has a gap and there's a slight stall behind.

Perichon hits the final kilometre and the road is dragging uphill. He has a small gap. Ganna is interested towards the front.

Perichon hits the final kilometre and the road is dragging uphill. He has a small gap. Ganna is interested towards the front.

Devenyns hits the front for QuickStep and Alaphilippe

Devenyns closes the gap to Perichon and continues on the front. Here we go

Latour goes, Ganna on the wheel. Coquard opens too

Alaphilippe goes after it, and so does Ganna!

But Coquard takes it!

Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) wins stage 2 of the Tour de la Provence 

Alaphilippe takes second place and Ganna (what can't he do?) finishes third.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis 4:19:42
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
3Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
4Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
5Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic
7Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-Up Nation
8Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
9Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
10Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) TotalEnergies

GC after stage 2
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 7:45:43
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:02
3Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:14
4Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:16
5Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:25
6Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
7Maxime Bouet (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:00:27
8Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
9Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team 0:00:30
10Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic 0:00:32

Tour de la Provence 2022 7th Edition 2nd stage Arles Manosque 1806 km 12022022 Bryan Coquard FRA Cofidis Julian Alaphilippe FRA QuickStep Alpha Vinyl Team photo Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency2022

(Image credit: Roberto Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency)

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