Paris-Nice 2017: Sonny Colbrelli wins rain-soaked stage two

Richie Porte loses times as crosswinds batter peloton again

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) sprinted to victory on stage two of Paris-Nice 2017 after another day dominated by rain and crosswinds.

Despite echelons forming early on for the second consecutive stage, there were plenty of big-name sprinters in the reduced peloton which arrived in Amilly to contest the bunch sprint.

But Colbrelli foiled them all, leading out a long sprint with the likes of stage one winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-FixAll) among those unable to pass.

The general classification was given another unexpected early shake-up, meanwhile, with 2013 and 2015 winner Richie Porte (BMC Racing) one of the highest-profile losers on the day.

Sonny Colbrelli won stage two of Paris-Nice 2017 in the rain (pic – ASO)

A nine-man break formed early in the stage, with Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) collecting more mountains points, but the action further behind was already taking centre-stage.

Wide-open roads and blustery crosswinds saw the peloton fracture into several pieces, and the front group – which included Demare – caught the escapees to form a 22-rider leading pack.

Porte, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) were all among those dropped, and Porte continued to go backwards as riders were spewed all over the road.

At the front, Henao’s chasing group managed to latch back on, while Contador and QuickStep Floors team-mates Dan Martin and Philippe Gilbert found themselves in the second group.

The Contador group found themselves more than 80 seconds adrift at one point, but a strong chase put them back in touch – the regrouping lighting the touch paper for more attacks off the front.

Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) and Gilbert were the biggest names in the front group of six riders, and they found themselves more than a minute in front at its maximum but couldn’t make it stick.

Gilbert’s attack with 20km kept him out front as the other escapees were reeled in, but FDJ and Katusha-Alpecin set a good pace in the peloton.

He was eventually caught with six kilometres remaining and it looked as though a bunch sprint would be inevitable, but Cannondale-Drapac’s Kristijan Doren rolled the dice with a late attack.

Katusha-Alpecin, backed by the firepower of FDJ and LottoNL-Jumbo, shut his move down but Michael Albasini then tried his luck under the flamme rouge.

Again it wasn’t to stick, though, and with Demare second on the road when the Swiss rider was caught it looked good for the yellow jersey.

Sonny Colbrelli’s win was Bahrain-Merida’s first at WorldTour level (pic – ASO)

It was Colbrelli who led out, however, with a huge sprint and – despite plenty of action behind him in the final 200m – nobody could get round him.

Degenkolb came closest but ran out of road as the emotional Italian roared out in delight as he got his hands in the air; Demare finishing third to keep the yellow jersey.

Tour de France 2017: stage two – result

1) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida – 4.20.59hrs
2) John Degenkolb (GER) – Trek-Segafredo – ST
3) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ
4) Dylan Groenewegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
5) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
6) Matti Breschel (DEN) – Astana
7) Olivier Naesen (BEL) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
8) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal
9) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
10) Evaldas Siskevicius (LTU) – Delko Marseille Provence KTM

General classification

1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 7.43.28hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors +6”
3) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – QuickStep Floors +17”
4) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha-Alpecin +19”
5) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
6) Romain Hardy (FRA) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept +21”
7) Dan Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +23”
8) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky – ST
9) Rudy Molard (FRA) – FDJ
10) Kristijan Koren (SVN) – Cannondale-Drapac +31”


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