Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) took his second stage win in two days at Paris-Nice 2019, winning stage two of the race from a small front group that had escaped in crosswinds.
Race leader Groenewegen beat Ivan García (Bahrain-Merida) and Philippe Gilbert (Deceeninck-Quick-Step) to the line in the final sprint from the front group of seven, which also included Egan Bernal and Michał Kwiatkowski (both Team Sky), Luis León Sánchez (Astana) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).
Their initial break came with around 5.5km to go as Luke Rowe (Team Sky) pushed the pace, with a reduced, but still large bunch behind unable to stop them establishing a gap of around five seconds.
Groenewegen was then able to add his second victory, with his lead extending to 12 seconds overall ahead of Kwiatkowski who moves up to second with Sánchez remaining third.
How it happened
After stage one’s chaos in the crosswinds, riders of the 2019 Paris-Nice faced another day of hard racing with forecasts predicting strong winds once again on the 163.5km stage two.
A three-man break of Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) got up the road early on the stage, but were given little leeway as they were returned to the peloton with 124km to go.
That was mainly down to Deceuninck-Quick-Step driving the pace in early crosswinds, with a number of riders, including race leader Dylan Groenewegen, initially struggling out the back.
While everyone was able to make it safely back in to the main bunch on that occasion, things became cagier heading into the final 100km.
Crosswinds then began to cause chaos once again and with 90km to go, the race had split into three distinct groups.
A number of GC contenders including Egan Bernal (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) were all able to make the front group, as were some of the sprinters, including Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), André Greipel (Arkea-Samsic) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). Groenewegen initially made the group, but was caught out in subsequent splits, but was able to make it back in once again.
The front group of 24 had 45 seconds on the chasers at one point, with Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) among a number of big name riders getting dropped. Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) soon joined the second bunch after suffering a mechanical with 40km to go.
With 15km to go, the 24-strong front group had 24 seconds lead, and it looked increasingly likely they would contest the stage win.
A more cohesive effort from the chasers though, with Bora-Hansgrohe working hard to put Sam Bennett in contention for the sprint, meant they were able to bridge back across to the front group with 10km to go.
Once again there were more splits and echelons to be had, as Sky pushed the pace on the front with 5.5km to go. That saw a very select group get away, with Team Sky trio Bernal, Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe, Ivan García (Bahrain-Merida), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and race leader Groenewegen making it in.
They worked well in the final few kilometres to stretch out the gap to the chasing bunch to five seconds with Rowe dropping off after his efforts, but none of the remaining riders could stop Groenewegen from taking his second stage win in two days, as he sprinted ahead to win with ease.
Paris-Nice 2019, stage two: Les Bréviaires to Bellegarde (163.5km)
1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 3-14-04
2 Ivan García (Esp) Bahrain-Merida
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
4 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
5 Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
6 Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana
7 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, all at same time
8 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 5s
9 André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa Samsic
10 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, 6-31-19
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at 12s
3 Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana, at 13s
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 16s
5 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at 19s
6 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at 20s
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 22s
8 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 23s
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at same time
10 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale, at 24s