Michael Matthews (Orica-Greenedge) won the 2nd stage of the Paris-Nice after Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) crossed the line first but was later relegated to 3rd place for dangerous sprinting. Niccolo Bonafazio (Trek-Segafredo) was the rider who was then promoted to 2nd on the stage.
The early part of the stage saw the riders start the long 214km haul from Contres to Commentry with temperatures only around 4 degrees Celsius. 4 riders decided to turn up the heat somewhat by attacking within the first 5km of the stage. The peloton let them go without much of a fight and they soon had a 10-minute lead over the rest of the race.
As the stage never had any notable climbs to speak of, it was tailor-made for the sprinters. This counted against the leading 4 as a number of teams were willing to assist Orica-Greenedge with the pace making, particularly at the back end of the stage. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding for Youcef Reguigui today and so with 15km to go, Nathan Haas brought our African Team to the head of the peloton.
The break was finally caught with 11km to go and it was then a jostle for position between the sprinters teams. Haas and Tyler Farrar were doing a sterling job to keep Reguigui up front until 5km to go, from thereon the Algerian would fend for himself. Reguigui was on the wheel of Bouhanni with 2km to go before being bumped out of line.
The sprint opened up with Bouhanni going for the win, the Frenchman started fading just before the line and as Matthews tried to pass on the inside, the Cofidis rider narrowed the gap between the barrier and himself. Reguigui was in the mix right until the end and at the finish, he was credited with 12th place on the stage.
Youcef Reguigui – Rider
The team did a really good job for me today. I tried to do my best and I was in a good position before 1km to go. The guys were taking a lot of risks in the bunch. I was a bit more cautious, not wanting to take too many risks as there is still a lot of racing to come. I know a good result is coming, I will try my best in the next stage to get this good result.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was a typical sprint stage today. 4 riders went away early on and then the GC leading team and 1 rider from Etixx-Quickstep controlled the stage all day. The stage ended with 1 local lap which had many roundabouts so it was a technical sprint. We were going for Youcef today and it was looking good but in the sprint things can change so fast. At 1km to go he was boxed in and couldn’t get his sprint going. The positive thing today was that there was no rain. It was very cold but at least it was dry. This is better for our boys and every day the weather is getting better now so this is good.