Cees Bol powers to victory in chaotic Stage 2 Sprint at Paris-Nice
A very technical finish saw Cees Bol seize the opportunity from behind and blast past his rivals before they could respond
The race started in Oinville-sur-Montcient before taking on a pan-flat 188km to the finish town of Amilly with Sander Armée (Qhubeka-Assos) and Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) going in the early break.
An attack with 60 kms to go didn't stick and the race was back together again with 50 km to go and the bunch readied themelves for a bunch sprint.
The race saw multiple crashes over the pan-flat stage between Oinvill-sur-Montcient and Amilly including George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) who continued and Alexis Vuillermoz (Total Direct Energie) who abandoned.
Matthews (BikeExchange) took five bonus seconds over the two intermediate sprints and then managed to sprint to third, meaning he took the yellow jersey by four seconds over Pedersen and stage one winner, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
The second intermediate sprint came after Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) took the first, Andre Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) took the second ahead of Matthews and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) with Geoghegan Hart attempting to take bonus seconds.
Matthews taking second did mean that he virtually went into joint lead overall with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) before heading to the finish after the Australian took a total of five seconds.
Trek had a nice lead out for Pedersen, but Cees Bol found his sprint legs again. Very powerful sprint by him, launching at the same time as Pedersen and overtaking with ease. Morkov seemed to have a bad legs day and couldn't move Bennett up.
Pedersen hung on for second, with Matthews and Coquard up there. Bennett started from too far back but Bol was full value for that - a really powerful sprint and a convincing win.
Stage winner Cees Bol said afterwards, ""It's the best feeling. I had a bit of a struggle at the start of the season - I wasn't so good until now - but we kept believing and today, with superb help from my teammates, we smashed it."
"We went well through the last corner. I was close to being boxed in by Nils Eekhoff recognised the moment and kept the door open for me. I found a good wheel. The guys from Trek did a strong lead-out but I started my sprint at the right moment and had the power to hold it to the line.""It's the best feeling. I had a bit of a struggle at the start of the season - I wasn't so good until now - but we kept believing and today, with superb help from my teammates, we smashed it."
"We went well through the last corner. I was close to being boxed in by Nils Eekhoff recognised the moment and kept the door open for me. I found a good wheel. The guys from Trek did a strong lead-out but I started my sprint at the right moment and had the power to hold it to the line."
Michael Matthews (Team Bike Exchange) was rewarded for his efforts in bonus sprints by being awarded the day's "combatif" prize and taking over the Yellow jersey of the race leader.
Stage 3 on Tuesday March 9th is a 14.4 km ITT around Gien, we should start to see the overall GC favorites emerge as the race continues to head south.
VIDEO: 2021 Paris Nice Stage 2 Highlights
2021 Paris Nice Stage 2 Top 10
1 Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM 04:27:59
2 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
4 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
5 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
9 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
10 Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
2021 Paris Nice GC after Stage 2
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 08:19:23
2 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:04
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:04
4 Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM 00:00:04
5 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:00:08
6 André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation 00:00:11
7 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM 00:00:12
8 Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:12
9 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:13
10 Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:13