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Tour du Var stage 2 – Live race coverage

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Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var.

As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders have rolled out for a tough day in the saddle. 

The 168.9km stage twists and turns and dips and rolls through the countryside around Fayence, with a number of testing climbs and another uphill finish.  

A total of 149 riders rolled out from the start. There has  been a series of attacks but now the peloton is all together and lined out.  

This was the stage start, with stage 1 winner Bauke Mollema in the leader's yellow jersey.

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160km to go

The opening 60km are on rolling roads, making it hard for a breakaway to go clear. 

On Friday Bauke Mollema powered to victory on stage 1 on the uphill finish. 

To read our full stage report and see the photo gallery and full results, click below. 

Tour du Var: Mollema wins stage 1

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The speed is high at over 45km/h but the peloton is still together. 

The speed is hurting some riders, with several continental team riders distanced.

They will have to try to fight back or face a long, lonely day in the saddle. 

Surprisingly Oliver Naesen from AG2R is among the riders that are distanced. The Belgian was on the attack yesterday. We're not sure if he suffered some kind of problem but will keep track of his position.

Allez! We have a new attack. 

Jose Manuel Diaz (Delko) Clement Berthet (Delko) Victor de la Parte (Total) Hugo Houle (Astana) and Andrea Mifsud (Swiss Racing) have a gap. 

Three other riders have joined the attack and the peloton seems happy to let them go. The gap is rising rapidly. 

The riders on the attack are: Biniam Ghirmay (Delko) Clement Berthet (Delko) Victor de la Parte (Total) Hugo Houle (Astana) Andrea Mifsud (Swiss Racing) Cyril Barthe (B&B) Dylan Kowalski (Roubaix Lille Metropole).

The peloton is at 2:20 now after easing up. We have the first real break of the day.

As you can see from this video of the stage start, the sun is out in the south of France for stage 2.   

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130km to go

The peloton is still losing time to the attack. The gap is close to 3:00 but we expect Trek-Segafredo to soon take up the chase and ride tempo behind to keep them under control.   

The gap to the break is up to 4:00. 

Allez. Allez. 

Here are the seven attackers.

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After his victory on the opening stage of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var on Friday, Trek-Segafredo leader Bauke Mollema told of just how he managed to beat out more explosive finishers such as AG2R Citroën's Greg Van Avermaet and Groupama-FDJ's Valentin Madouas on the six per cent rise to the line in Gourdon.

"It was a finish for fast and explosive riders, it was not a super, super hard climb, so I was expecting it would come down to the final 800 metres where it was a bit steeper again," he said after the stage.

Read Mollema's full reaction below.

Early sprint and team strength key to Mollema's opening victory at Tour du Var

GOURDON FRANCE FEBRUARY 19 Podium Bauke Mollema of Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo Yellow Leader Jersey celebrate during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 1 a 1868km stage from Biot to Gourdon 698m letour0683 on February 19 2021 in Gourdon France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The break is on the  Côte des Marjoris, the first catergorised climb of the day. 

It is already hurting their legs. 

It comes in two parts: one is 2.7km long, then second is 2.6km long after a brief descent.

The break leads the peloton by 4:00 now, with Groupama also helping Trek with the chase.

The climb marks the start of the hardest part of the stage, with the Col de Mons the high point of the day after 86km.   

Biniam Ghirmay is the first over the Montee Marjoris taking six points as he no doubt pursues the mountains jersey. 

Andreas Mifsud was second and Victor de la Parte -was third.

The descent has helped the peloton push out their lead to 4:45.

The stage has turned into a day-long pursuit match.

Here's the peloton, with riders grabbing bidons as they go. 

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The break can see the Mur de Montauroux and the Col de Mons looming large up the roads now.  

The series of climbs will decide how long they can stay out front. We could also seem some action in the peloton as teams try to shake out their GC rivals before Sunday's final stage on the Madone climb near Nice.  

The climb will gradually take the riders around 400m up to close to 800m. 

The Mur de Montauroux.

British neo-pro Tom Pidcock has spoken of his excitement at making the step up to the pro ranks and making his debut at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, saying that he has no problem with riding in the famous Ineos 'train', even if team boss Dave Brailsford is looking at a new racing strategy in 2021.

"I've got no problem riding in a train," Pidcock told the Telegraph. "But they kind of know and understand how I want to race. I think they're very much wanting to change their riding style and Dave has been in the media saying that. It's good to hear.

Click below for the full story. 

Tom Pidcock: I've got no problem riding in the Ineos train

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here are Trek leading the peloton. 

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This is the view of the sunny day from the Israel Start-Up Nation team car. 

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The Col de Mons is hurting the riders and several have been dropped from the peloton as they near the summit. 

The break of 7 riders is still 4:30 clear of the peloton.

The break is near the top of the Col de Mons climb. We can expect a battle for the KOM points. 

Biniam Ghirmay (Delko) went over the top of Col de Mons first in the break. He will take the red mountain jersey from Krists Neilands (ISN) after today's finish after scoring maximum points. 

The peloton was faster on the climb and has pulled the gap to the break down to 3:45.

There is 72km to race.

After  the descent, the remaining 60km are on rolling roads.

The stage ends with the steep narrow kick up to Fayence. 

Victor de la Parte wins the the first intermediate sprint on the rolling roads.

The riders face a loop south of Fayence now before returning for the uphill finish. 

55km to go

The seven riders in the break are Biniam Ghirmay Clement Berthet Victor de la Parte Hugo Houle Andrea Mifsud Cyril Barthe Dylan Kowalski.

The peloton is chasing at 3:45, with 20km to go to the first passage through Fayence.

The riders will then do another loop and return to Fayence for the race to the finish in the village.

The pace is high now as the peloton ups the chase.

Race on! The peloton has closed the gap to just 1:10 now. 

35km to go

The riders are close to the first passage of the Mur de Fayence now.

Trek and Ineos are gathering on the front of the peloton. 

Kenny Elissonde leads the peloton on the steep climb to Fayence.

The gap is close to 2:00.  

Trek is upping the pace with two riders on the front. Cofidis are also up front. 

A crash has scattered the peloton  briefly. 

Pierre Latour is one of those to crash. 

However the speed of the peloton has closed down the break. 

Dylan Kowalsk and Andrea Misfud have bene caught,  leaving five riders up front. 

22km to go

The gap to the five is down to 1:30.

The sprint teams seem hesitant about picking up the chase just yet but the peloton will have work hard now. 

The gap is down to 1:20 but the five breakaways refuse to give up. 

Trek continue to chase but where are the other teams? They must be confident they can sweep up the break in the final kilometres and especially on the climb to the finish.  

Here come Ineos. Dennis, Geoghagan Hart are both visible. Thomas too.

The attackers are on the climb to Fayence again. It's steep, narrow and twisting in the village, so positioning will be vital. 

Some riders need a push on the steepest sections.  

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Dennis is slightly agitated about the chase. It's difficult to understand if he's talking to his teammate or other riders in the peloton. 

However Dylan van Baarle is now on the front giving it big licks on the front. 

Up front Hugo Houle of Astana is driving the break. But their lead is down to 40 seconds now.   

This was the break of the day, with Biniam Ghirmay on the front here. 

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Hailu Biniam Girmay of Eritrea and Team Delko during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m Breakaway letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Ineos are lined-out on the front now. 

Everyone else is in their slip-stream for now.

New signing Tom Pidcock is at the back as he begins his transition from cyclo-cross and Under 23 racing.

10km to go

A fast descent section lines out the peloton.

Ineos want to try to control the race all the way to the final climb.

however will Geraint Thomas and Geoghagen Hart have the legs to win the stage and stay up there overall? 

It's over for the break. 

The motorbikes are waved out from behind them as the peloton close them down.

5km to go

Gruppo compatto. 

Houle and Barthe try to stay out front but the peloton is on them. 

It's an early finish for the stage after fast racing all day. 

Barthe is trying to win the most aggressive rider jersey with a final dig.  

2km to go

It's 1km to the foot of the climb to the finish. 

Thomas now takes over on the front for Ineos. 

Mollema moves up, as do other teams. AG2R take over for Greg van Avermaet.

Last km! 

Michael Woods is also up there. 

The pace goes up as the gradient hurts.

Woods leads as Gaudu moves up.

Woods is opening gaps in the pack.

Woods wins the stage! 

Woods managed to open a gap and so is likely to take the race lead too.   

Woods slowly increased the pace and opened gap in the riders behind him.

The initial results show that Woods beat Mollema by two seconds.

Narvaez was third at 4 seconds, with Gaudu fourth at 7 seconds.  

The provisional GC shows Woods as new race leader.

This is the top ten for the stage: 

1 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 4:16:54
Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:02
3 Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:04
4 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:07
5 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:10
6 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7 Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:11
8 Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:00:13
9 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers
10 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis

Woods pulls on the bright yellow leader's jersey.

Michael Woods was happy with his win, speaking of his day in fluent French.

“It all worked out for me,” he said. 

“My legs hurt but the team did a fantastic job protecting me. It was my first race with the team but it went perfectly; now we want to keep the jersey. 

“Tomorrow will be different and be hard. The Madone is a hard climb but we have a strong team; we’ll do everything we can to keep it.” 

This video from Trek shows how close it was for Woods and Mollema.

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This is the top ten for the stage and the GC. 

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 4:16:54
2Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:02
3Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
4David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:06
5Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:09
6Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:11
8Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:00:13
9Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers
10Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis

General classification after stage 2
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 9:07:15
2Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:01
3David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:06
4Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:09
5Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:11
6Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:13
7Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
8Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB
9Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
10Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ

Here's Woods in yellow. 

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Here's the moment Woods hit the line. 

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Arrival Michael Woods of Canada and Team Israel StartUp Nation celebrate Bauke Mollema of Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo Yellow Leader Jersey during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Here's a closer shot of Woods celebrating his first win for ISN.

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Arrival Michael Woods of Canada and Team Israel StartUp Nation celebrate during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

In the finale Ineos lead the peloton but they were swamped by other teams on the final climb. However Narvaez finished a fine third.

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Geraint Thomas of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

To see more images from the race, results and report, click below. 

Tour du Var: Woods takes stage 2 victory

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Sep Vanmarcke of Belgium and Team Israel StartUp Nation Bauke Mollema of Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo Yellow Leader Jersey during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m Peloton letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Woods took the win and the flowers.

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Podium Michael Woods of Canada and Team Israel StartUp Nation celebrate during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Thanks for following our live coverage from France. 

Click below to read our full stage report and so see the full results and growing photo gallery.

Tour du Var: Woods takes stage 2 victory

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 The peloton during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m Village Landscape letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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