Paris Nice: Stage 2

Sonny Colbrelli won his first World Tour race on the second stage of Paris-Nice as the winds again blows the peloton apart

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Paris Nice: Stage 2

Sonny Colbrelli won his first World Tour race today, on the 2nd Stage of Paris-Nice, and brought first European victory to BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team.

© Team Bahrain-Merida/ Miwa IIJIMA / BettiniPhoto

After hard work of the whole team throughout the entire 2nd stage and after lots of changes, breakaways, groupings and regroupings, there was a bunch kick at the end of the stage. Sonny Colbrelli, who has been close to many wins already this year in the big sprints, stayed focused and concentrated in the most challenging of conditions and then grabbed his chance for a great sprint in the last few hundred meters.

After yesterday’s very hard, windy and wet first stage, no-one expected the conditions could be worse, but the second stage was indeed an even harder race with extraordinary weather. It was a hard and challenging day for all the riders to fight against each other and against the strong side and tail wind. The temperature also dropped to 4C.

Within a couple of kilometres of the start of stage 2 (Rochefort-en-Yvelines – Amilly, 195 km), the rain turned into snow and the strong winds blew on the flat and open countryside of France shattering the peloton into six groups.

A breakaway formed very soon and went up to two minutes from the chasing group, and a little more to the third and fourth group. With 20 km to go Phillipe Gilbert from QuickStep team went solo out front and created a gap of 37 seconds. The other riders from the breakaway were then caught by the peloton. With eight kilometres to go Gilbert had a gap of 27 seconds, but he couldn’t keep it and just a few kilometers before the finish, the peloton caught him and despite a number of solo moves, it was a bunch kick from where Colbrelli gained his memorable win.

Sonny Colbrelli,“It’s such a special day. My first World Tour win, the biggest win of my career. I’m really happy. It has been a really hard stage, with heavy rain and a lot of echelons. I did a great sprint. I feared they could catch me in the final meters, but I tried to resist. I was riding at Paris-Nice for the first time, to prepare for Milano-Sanremo, because I would like to change my approach to that important race, but now I’m here and there will also be other stages that suit me, so I will focus on Milano-Sanremo after this race.”


Contador – “It has been an infernal day from the first moment, and everything was cut into a thousand groups,”


John Degenkolb: “Another super hard stage with wind and rain from the beginning,” said Degenkolb. “I felt much better than yesterday, and from the beginning I was in a good position and placed in the first echelon. The team protected Alberto very well, and he came back to the first echelon.

“In the end, going into the sprint – I mean, it was not a normal sprint after a super hard stage like this and everybody’s super empty and tired, and that is what I like the most – I still felt pretty strong. In the end, it’s a disappointment to get second, but it shows my shape is in the right direction. I am still happy with the second place. It’s the second race after a training period, and I am already on the podium again, and that’s good to see.”

Alberto Contador: “It has been an infernal day from the first moment, and everything was cut into a thousand groups,” Contador said. “There have been some incredible nervous moments again. I was well placed, but lost contact and fell back to a group behind. The team worked very well, several teammates came from behind, and they made a high pace, and we were able to catch the group ahead”.

“We saved the day without problems, but it was a pity that in the end, we could not achieve the victory with John. We must be happy because we saved a day of great danger with all the wind, cold and rain. It has been a day that we’ll remember for a long time. The important thing now is to recover. We shall continue to take it day by day and see what can be done when my terrain arrives.”
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Richie Porte (one of the favourites) loses time
Porte initially made the first group of the split peloton and after 40km, the group had a 35-second lead. Strong winds and extremely high average speeds of almost 50km/hr in the first two hours of racing saw Porte drop from the front group over the next 15-20km.

Although Porte’s BMC Racing Team teammates joined him and began the chase to close the gap, it had grown to 4’30” inside the final 80km, and by the time the group crossed the line in Amilly, they were 14’16” in arrears of the bunch. Porte’s cumulative time loss over the first two days of racing sees him sit in 35th place on the General Classification, 15’17” behind current race leader Arnaud Démare (FDJ).

Six stages remain, including another flat stage on stage 3 of 190km with two small climbs in the second half of the race, before a 14.5km individual time trial to Mont Brouilly on stage 4.

Richie Porte: “I was in the first group when the peloton split. Fran Ventoso and Danilo Wyss were there with me and were great, shepherding me. We really missed a guy like Michael Schär in conditions like that. I know I’m in good form. It’s not my kind of racing but I don’t want to make excuses as to why I dropped.

At the end of the day I think we can learn more from a day like than we do winning. It was a tough day for everyone, the whole peloton. I don’t think anyone will forget that one in a while. No one is more disappointed than me, but I think I can repay my teammates later in the week with the time trial and other stages by going for the win there.”

Dylan Groenewegen (3rd) “It was a fair race. You can see by the names in the result, which you never see in bunch sprints. After such a hard race, it is about who has the most left,” said Groenewegen.

“In the echelons, I was not really cold, but during the last 20 kilometers, it was very heavy. Those conditions are the same for everyone, so that shouldn’t be a excuse. It was fairly close, so then you need some luck. Nevertheless, I’m happy with fourth place after such a tough race.”

“Today we rode as a strong team. Yesterday was not good and we should move on. Today we turned it into positive energy. I feel strong and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We need to hold this feeling.”

Stage 2
1. Sonny Colbrelli, Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
2. John Degenkolb, Trek – Segafredo
3. Arnaud Démare, FDJ
4. Dylan Groenewegen, Team LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Christophe Laporte, Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
6. Matti Breschel, Astana Pro Team
7. Oliver Naesen, AG2R La Mondiale
8. André Greipel, Lotto Soudal
9. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha – Alpecin
10. Evaldas Siskevicius Delko Marseille Provence KTM

15. Ben Swift, UAE Team Emirates
20. Marcel Kittel, Quick-Step Floors
28. Daniel Martin, Quick-Step Floors
36. Alberto Contador, Trek – Segafredo
41. Simon Yates, ORICA-Scott
68. Luke Rowe, Team Sky @13
103. Richie Porte, BMC Racing Team @14.16
167. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo – Vital Concept

1. Arnaud Démare, FDJ
2. Julian Alaphilippe, Quick-Step Floors 0:06
3. Philippe Gilbert, Quick-Step Floors 0:17
4. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha – Alpecin 0:19
5. Tony Gallopin, Lotto Soudal ,,
6. Romain Hardy, Fortuneo – Vital Concept 0:21
7. Daniel Martin, Quick-Step Floors 0:23
8. Sergio Luis Henao, Team Sky



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