Bonnet wins messy final in Paris-Nice stage
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bonnet wins messy final in Paris-Nice stage

by Bjorn Haake at 10:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Paris-Nice

William Bonnet won the bunch sprint in the second stage of Paris-Nice, after 201 kilometers from Contres to Limoges. Peter Sagan led out the sprint, but was beaten by Bonnet in the last meters. The final was overshadowed by a crash, when a divider split the peloton in two, leaving very little room to maneuver.

Lars Boom defended his overall lead on another dry, but windy day in France. Luis León Sánchez came around David Millar in GC, thanks to finishing third in the sprint. Frenchman Laurent Mangel put himself in a four-man move and won two of the three mountain climbs of the day, giving him the polka-dot jersey from Lars Boom.

Just like yesterday, there was a lot of nervous excitement in the peloton and the narrow streets didn't help. Columbia for Greipel and Liquigas for Chicci were trying to control things, but as the road narrowed due to a divider, disaster struck in the final kilometer. Tony Martin and Jimmy Casper were among those who hit the ground.

Bonnet came out of the mess unharmed. "In the last kilometers, there was a lot of pushing. When the crash happened, I was well placed, in about 15th position," Bonnet said after the race, according to "I managed to avoid the riders on the ground and then I was able to take a good wheel, that from Luis León Sánchez."

The Spaniard provided a perfect spring board for Bonnet. "He attacked with 400m to go and in the end I was able to pass him." Bonnet had a hard time reaching Sagan, who had started the sprint a little earlier, but with a throw of his bike, Bonnet pushed his front wheel over the line just ahead of Sagan. "The last 100m were really hard, but I gave it all. I just tried to hang on and it worked."

Bonnet has won a few sprints, but Paris-Nice is special. "That is the most beautiful of my career. Before at Crédit Agricole I worked a lot for Thor Hushovd, but since I am with Bouygues Telecom, I have more freedom to play my own card."

Sánchez in green

Sánchez, the defending champion, has been looking sharp in the opening stages. "I felt great today, so I decided to give it a go in the sprint for the day's victory," Sánchez said after receiving his green jersey for the best sprinter.

The conditions on the finishing straight were quite difficult. "There was a lot of head wind, which made it difficult. I have to be satisfied with third place. I was unable to do better and crown the work by my team, which had another superb work throughout the day. I am definitely very happy with how things go.

"Thanks to the bonifications, I came closer to the first place overall. I have to stay concentrated and we need to continue doing things as well as we have up to now."

Another windy day

The attack of the day came after only four kilometers, when Mauro Finetto, Laurent Mangel, Koen De Kort and Jens Mouris took off. Mangel ahead of De Kort and Finetto was the order at the côte de Saint-Aignan (km 15). The peloton climbed over the first hill of the day about two and a half minutes later.

The maximum gap of 4'15 was reached after around 60km of racing. The race was extremely fast, with an average speed of almost 47km/h after three hours of racing.

The second climb, the côte de Maison Neuve came after 156 kilometers. Mangel was ahead of De Kort and Mouris, one minute ahead of the peloton. This was quickly followed by the final sprint of the day in Roussac, where Mangel out-sprinted Mouris. De Kort rolled over the line in third, with the peloton still 45 seconds behind.

Twenty-two kilometers from the finish, the peloton rolled up to the break, with only Mangel continuing his efforts. But the Frenchman was caught four kilometers later.

On the final climb, the category côte de Nieul, the peloton was together, but three riders escaped shortly before the top. Cyril Gautier was the first over the line, ahead of the ever-aggressive Mangel and Nicolas Maes. From the mountain top banner it was about 11 kilometers to the finish, which Gautier tackled solo.

Once HTC-Columbia put itself to the front, Gautier's effort was ended, about four kilometers from the finish.

Results stage 2: Contres - Limoges - 201 km

1. William Bonnet (BBox Bouygues Telecom) 4h22'40
2. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
3. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne)
4. Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre)
5. Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank)
6. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
7. Tom Veelers (Skil Shimano)
8. Eduard Vorganov (Katusha)
9. Borut Bozic (Vacansoleil)
10. Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas)

General classification after stage 3

1. Lars Boom (Rabobank) 8h55'51
2. Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) 0'05
3. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) 0'10
4. David Millar (Garmin Transitions) 0'13
5. Roman Kreuziger     (Liquigas-Doimo)      0'15
6. Gregory Henderson   (Team Sky) 0'20
7. Peter Sagan           (Liquigas-Doimo) 0'23
8. Levi Leipheimer     (Team Radioshack) 0'25
9. Alberto Contador    (Astana)
10. Xavier Tondo       (Cervelo Test Team) 0'29


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