Moreno Hofland wins stage two of Paris-Nice but Nacer Bouhanni stays in yellow
Moreno Hofland claims the biggest victory of his career on the second stage of Paris-Nice.
Last Updated: 12/03/14 12:04pm
Hofland latched onto Giant-Shimano's lead-out train as the 205-kilometre trek from Rambouillet to Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche neared its conclusion, and then stole the march on his rivals by kicking early and sustaining his sprint to outpace Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) by less than half a wheel length.
It was the 22-year-old Belkin rider's second success of the season and continued a fine run of form which saw him take second place at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne earlier in the month. Overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) was also in the mix, and the Frenchman's third-placed finish saw him retain his grip on the yellow jersey with a two-second advantage over the determined Degenkolb.
Geraint Thomas meanwhile, moved up once place to fourth in the overall standings after Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) lost time following a tumble in the final 10km. Thomas's Team Sky team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen was also caught up in that crash, but both riders were able to get back on their bikes and complete the second day of action.
After Sunday's equally crash-strewn stage, the peloton took a little while to get going as they rolled out of Rambouillet and early escapees Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché) and Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) were almost 12 minutes ahead before there was any form of reaction from behind.
FDJ were the first to pick up the pace, but it was only when Omega Pharma - Quick-Step and Giant Shimano lent their support that the break's advantage quickly began to tumble.
The gap stood at 5min 30sec as they crested the only category-three climb of the day, and despite Saramotin's brave efforts, the duo were both were swept up 5km from home.
By then the action was in full swing, and although Giant-Shimano had worked hard for Degenkolb, it was Hofland who emerged to spoil their party and back up last month's Ruta del Sol triumph.
1 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin, 4:43:46
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, same time
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, st
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC, st
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
7 Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement, st
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol, st
9 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge, st
10 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, 8:46:43
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +2secs
3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin, +4
4 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +13
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, +14
6 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, st
8 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
10 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge, st