Davide Ballerini took his second win in as many days on stage two of the Tour de la Provence 2021 in tough weather conditions just ahead of Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) in second.
Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was the only rider from his team up at the front after world champion Julian Alaphilippe was brought down in a late crash along with Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech).
The Italian sprinter continues his superb start to his and the team’s season with two wins out of two, meaning Ballerini extends his overall lead going into the Mont Ventoux Chalet Reynard tomorrow.
How it happened
The stage started in the town of Cassis and the riders wound their way through the Provence countryside over 170.6km to the town of Manosque, with five riders going up the road in the day’s early breakaway.
Eduard-Michael Grosu (Team Delko), Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Energie), Filippo Conca (Lotto-Soudal), Samuel Leroux (Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole) and Baptiste Bleier (St. Michel-Auber93) were the five men to go clear, getting a maximum gap of around four minutes.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step controlled most of the stage until 40km to go with the gap slowly coming down before heading into that final 40km when Conca attacked the break, pulling out 30 seconds on the chasers on the first climb in the finishing circuit.
Behind, a crash saw several riders in the peloton hit the deck, including Danish national champion Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
The peloton changed shape as they hit the climb with Ineos Grenadiers and Ag2r Citroën Team challenging Deceuninck – Quick-Step on the front as they hammered up the climb and down the descent for their leaders with Ineos looking to be protecting Iván Sosa instead of Egan Bernal.
Conca came to the bottom of the descent with a 46 second gap to the chasers and 2-04 to the peloton that was really upping the pace with 30km to go.
The pace that was put on up and down the climb split the peloton into a few groups but the main bulk of the pack did stay together as Deceuninck – Quick-Step retook control with the main breakaway group being caught with 25km to go. Meanwhile, Conca still held 1-22 of a gap solo up the road.
Conca was eventually brought back just after coming over the top of the final categorised climb with 16km to go, after Deceuninck – Quick-Step drilled the peloton up the climb.
With 10km to go a two-man break did kick on with Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) having a go using the tight twisty roads with road furniture dropped all over the road. They managed to pull out a gap of 10 seconds.
The two-rider break was brought back with 4km to go with Deceuninck – Quick-Step continuing to drill the pace before being joined by Vermeersch to drill the pace after being caught.
As the climb started it was Bahrain Victorious and Astana-Premier Tech who took up the pacing with 3km to go, with Astana-Premier Tech suddenly taking complete control with the whole team.
Both Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) then both hit the deck with 1km to go.
It was Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) who opened up the sprint but it was the overall leader, Ballerini, who came around with only Ciccone able to hold the wheel of the big Italian.
Jorgensen crashed in the final 100 metres after clipping the back wheel of another rider.
Tour de la Provence 2021, stage two, Cassis to Manosque (170.6km)
1. Davide Ballerini (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 4-21-49
2. Giulio Ciccone (ITA) Trek-Segafredo
3. Alex Aranburu (ESP) Astana-Premier Tech
4. Dylan Teuns (BEL) Bahrain Victorious
5. Patrick Konrad (AUT) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana-Premier Tech
7. Gianni Moscon (ITA) Ineos Grenadiers
8. Stefano Oldani (ITA) Lotto-Soudal
9. Sven Erik Bystrøm (NOR) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
10. Bauke Mollema (NED) Trek-Segafredo, at 6 seconds.
General classification after stage two
1. Davide Ballerini (ITA) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 9-04-52
2. Alex Aranburu (ESP) Astana-Premier Tech, at 16 seconds
3. Gianni Moscon (ITA) Ineos Grenadiers, at 19s
4. Patrick Konrad (AUT) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 20s
5. Dylan Teuns (BEL) Bahrain Victorious
6. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana-Premier Tech, all at same time
7. Bauke Mollema (NED) Trek-Segafredo, at 25s
8. Jack Haig (AUS) Bahrain Victorious, at 26s
9. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (FRA) Ag2r La Mondiale-Citroën
10. Egan Bernal (COL) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time.