Tour Du Var – Stage 2

Michael Woods wins stage 2 from yesterday’s winner Bauke Mollema and Woods now leads overall from Mollema and David Gaudu. Ben Tulett first of the Brits in 23rd

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Tour Du Var – Stage 2:

Michael Woods wins stage 2 from yesterday’s winner Bauke Mollema and Woods now leads overall from Mollema and David Gaudu. Ben Tulett first of the Brits. On the steep final wall in Fayence, the Israel Start-Up Nation rider was the best ahead of Bauke Mollema and Jhonnatan Narvaez. Woods also took over the leader’s jersey from the Dutchman.

Woods post stage: “I just try to enjoy it. This is one of the reasons why you race bikes. That’s why kids watch sports. When you are young you choose your favourite guy. That’s what makes it fun. You know the cameras are on you so, instead of using it as a source of pressure, I try to enjoy it. I was able to execute the plan, kept the lead and accelerate with 300 metres to go.” About the final stage he says,  “We have a strong team. I have real faith in the guys. I have to keep a cool head, be smart, descend well, and make sure that I can follow Mollema. The rest is out of my hands, right?”

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The start and finish were in Fayence, about thirty kilometers north of the seaside resort of Fréjus. The finish was just after the Mur de Fayence, a short but very steep slope. At eleven in the morning (CET), the 149 remaining riders got underway in sunny conditions and those wanting to be in the day’s breakaway immediately took their chances but it took a while before a group was allowed to stay away.

After twenty kilometres, a breakway formed with seven men. Astana rider Hugo Houle joined forces with the Delko couple Clément Berthet and Biniam Ghirmay Hailu, Víctor De la Parte (Total Direct Energie), Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels), Dylan Kowalski (Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Andrea Mifsud (Swiss Racing Academy). Of them, Berthet was in 56th place, 1m 37s from yellow jersey Bauke Mollema, the best-classified rider. On the first climb of the day, the Côte des Marjoris after 57.6 kilometers, their lead had already increased to four minutes.

Back in the peloton, Mollema’s teammates had put themselves on the front keeping the lead to the break around four to five minutes. After about a hundred kilometres, the Mur de Fayence was ridden up the first time with two more local laps of 33 kilometers following during which the lead to the escapees was brought down bit by bit.

On the local circuit, the peloton was shaken up by a big crash. Pierre Latour, Anthony Turgis and Nans Peters went down. Latour had to abandon. On the ascent towards the center of Fayence, Vuillermoz was the first to light the fuse to the explosive finish, however his effort came much too soon. Greg Van Avermaet was unable match the best climbers as Woods showed himself to be the strongest for his new team on his second day of racing.

When he increased the pace, no one could keep up. Classification leader Mollema rode well though to limit his losses on the final climb and finished second just behind Woods. However, he was unable to keep his leader’s jersey. Despite losing the race lead, Bauke Mollema is already anticipating Stage 3.

On today’s stage, Mollema dug deep and threw his bike across the line for second place, showing the fighting spirit of a rider who’s always battling for every inch. This time, however, Mollema’s gritty effort fell one-second short of holding yellow.

Mollema said after “It was a tough day, up and down the whole day. It’s a pity to lose the jersey by one second, but Woods was stronger today. He went from first position with 300-400 metres to go already. I was on his wheel, but I couldn’t pass him or close the gap. He deserved to win today. I am happy with the feelings – the legs are good! And it’s not often that I finish first and second in two constitutive days,” said Mollema.

The Trek-Segafredo team did the bulk of the work, as is expected in defending a race lead, and although the yellow jersey is now on Woods’ shoulders for the final, decisive Stage 3, Mollema is confident. It’s a parcours he knows well. “I’m happy for now, and tomorrow will be a mountain stage, much harder than the last two days, more for the real climbers. I have been really looking forward to this stage for a long time because it’s on my training roads and I know every climb really well. Hopefully, we can change things in the classification tomorrow,” he smiled.

Nairo Quintana: “I still had good feelings today, but the finish at the top of the Mur de Fayence required a lot of power. It was difficult for me considering it was a dry climb requiring a lot of explosiveness and intended for true specialists of this kind of short, dry bergs. There was also a lot of nervousness, tension within the peloton. We were close to each other. I would once again like to thank all my teammates from Team Arkéa-Samsic for their help. Tomorrow will be better for me because the route looks more like a mountain stage with long passes to climb. Moreover, I know them very well since they are my training routes “.

1. Michael Woods Leader jersey Israel Start-Up Nation 04:16:54
2. Bauke Mollema Point jersey Trek-Segafredo @ 02
3. Jhonnatan Narvaez INEOS Grenadiers @ 04
4. David Gaudu Youth jersey Groupama-FDJ @ 07
5. Alexis Vuillermoz Total Direct Energie @ 10
6. Rudy Molard Groupama-FDJ @ 10
7. Ben O’Connor AG2R Citroën Team @ 11
8. Jesus Herrada Cofidis @ 13
9. Arjen Livyns Bingoal-WB @ 13
10. Pavel Sivakov INEOS Grenadiers

23. Ben Tulett
24. Tao Geoghegan Hart
25. Simon Carr
62. Geraint Thomas
81. Tom Pidcock
102. Stuart Balfour



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