Sonny Colbrelli’s big break
Sonny Colbrelli is the sort of rider whose name you’ll have probably seen in the top tens of major races such as the Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo for a number of years, but, until now, has been unable to make the next step to major wins.
That’s not to say that Colbrelli hasn’t achieved some success, winning a number of second tier Italian races over the last couple of years, but this is the first time that he has been able to perform outside his homeland.
What’s perhaps most surprising is the circumstances in which Colbrelli took his first major win. As wind and rain whipped the peloton, you would have expected Colbrelli to have suffered more than bigger, more powerful sprinters such as John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff, but he rode smartly to stay well-positioned but protected throughout.
He also proved the freshest come the final sprint, launching his sprint very early – especially when you consider the block headwind – and being able to hold off his rivals advancing from behind.
Flappy rain jackets
In age where aerodynamics seem to be at the centre of every cyclist’s thoughts, it was surprising to see a full pack of sprinters trying to win a stage, all wearing flappy rain jackets.
Of course we can forgive the riders from wearing non-aero kit in an attempt to stay warm during a long stage with temperatures stuck in the lower single figures and freezing wind and rain throughout.
But with not a huge amount of jostling for position in the final five kilometres, surely the sprinters could have found a few seconds to take their hands off the bars and toss their jackets to some lucky spectators.
Maybe that would have made John Degenkolb that tiny little bit quicker to let him take the stage win ahead of Colbrelli (who had probably in the most aero jacket of the lot).
Game over for Porte
After losing 47 seconds on the opening stage of the race, Richie Porte told journalists that the race certainly wasn’t over. Well, Richie, it is now.
The Australian was caught out early on stage two, and spent pretty much the entire day chasing in a sizeable group.
For most of the day they held a respectable gap of around five minutes, but in the final 10 kilometres the fight seemed to go out of their legs, eventually rolling in more than 14 minutes behind the front group.
If there’s any silver lining it’s that Porte will now be free to go for stage wins, so look out for one of them on the summit finish at the Col de Couillole on Saturday.
More TV coverage…
If you ever need an argument for longer television coverage of races, then this was it, as by the time the Eurosport TV cameras started broadcasting, some of the most important race action had already happened.
Within the first 15 kilometres crosswinds had split the race all over the place, with a number of major contenders dropped.
While Porte would never make it back to the main peloton, and there was an intriguing pursuit as a large group including Alberto Contador fought to chase down the front group.
This sort of action can often decide the final destination of the yellow jersey, so it would be great to see it given some live TV coverage.
… and more bad weather
Eurosport don’t have control of this one, but we’d love it if they could rustle up some more bad weather for the rest of the racing this week.
The riders may not share this opinion, but the opening two stages of Paris-Nice have been great to watch, so we hope this excitement can continue for the rest of the race, and across the border into Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico.