Heinrich Haussler of the Cervelo Test Team won the second stage of Paris Nice ahead of Mark Renshaw (Columbia Highroad) and Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) the mercurial nature of cycle racing was once again demonstrated when yesterday's stage winner Alberto Contador was held up by a crash at the back of the peloton in the final moments of the stage – nothing serious mind.
The Cervelo rider put the hammer down in the last 200 metres and stormed to his first Paris Nice stage ahead of Aussie rider Mark Renshaw (Columbia-High Road) and Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre). Alberto Contador (Astana) held on to his yellow jersey despite a scare in the final two kilometres. Hassler's win, 25, meant he also took over the points classification green jersey from Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream).
Wiggins could though console himself that he is still second overall in the general classification, his teamate David Millar remains in fifth, today's stage winner Heinrich Haussler moves up to ninth.
159 riders rolled out from the start of today's stage from St Brisson-sur-Loire and La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin a 195.5km jaunt with a couple 3rd category climbs thrown in. Today was a day for the sprinters a fact underlined a couple of hours into the race when Astana team chief Alain Gallopin made it clear Alberto Contador and his team-mates were not going to fight to keep the yellow jersey:
"We’re going to maintain a steady gap with the four escapees and in the finale, if the sprinters teams want to go for it, let them do it. We’re not going to chase. We don’t mind losing the yellow jersey. None of the four riders in the lead is a threat for final victory. If the sprinters want that stage, it’s up for grabs. It will be their decision, not ours," he told www.letour.fr.
The chasing pack lead by various sprinting teams looked to be making inroads when then break hit the first climb of the day Cote de Sancerre but once the break was safely over they started putting time into their pursuers again.
The sprinters teams finally got their act together when the break's lead hit seven minutes with Francais de Jeux moving to the front of the pack and upping the pace for their man Sebastien Chavenel. Meanwhile a crash at the back of the peloton cuts 16 riders off from the main group amongst them one of the favourites Cadel Evans. An hour out from the finish and Quickstep take over at the front of the chasing pack –Evans at this point is 25 seconds down on this group.
The sense of purpose from the chasing pack begins to have an effect and by 161Km the chasing group have reduced the break's lead to exactly four minutes. The sprinters are going to have their day three clicks later and the break is down below three minutes. At this point the speed of the chase temprarily split the peloton with green jersey wearer, Bradley Wiggins back in the second group separated from the leading bunch – they all come together again though a few kilometres down the road.
Some futile breaks from the likes of French rider Pierre Rolland (BBox Bouygues Telecom) all come to nothing and the sprinters gear up for the big finish as the pack hits the outskirts and the sprint teams slugged it out with the increasingly formidable looking CTT bagging another win to keep up the momentum of their impressive start to the season.
1. Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team 4h 45' 01"
2. Mark Renshaw Team Columbia - Highroad 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
3. Mirco Loronzetto Lampre - N.G.C 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
4. Tom Veelers SkilL-Shimano 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
5. Murilo Antoniobil Fischer Liquigas 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
6. Sébastien Chavenel Francaise Des Jeux 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
7. Sébastien Hinault AG2R-La Mondiale 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
8.Samuel Dumoulin Cofidis le Credit En Ligne 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
9. Romain Feillu Agritubel 4h 45' 01" + 00' 00"
10. Mathew Hayman Rabobank 4h 45' 01"+ 00' 00"
1. Alberto Contador Astana 4h 56' 06"
2. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream 4h 56' 13"+ 00' 07"
3. Luis-Leon Sanchez Caisse D’Epargne 4h 56' 15"+ 00' 09"
4. Tony Martin Team Columbia - High Road 4h 56' 17" + 00' 11"
5. David Millar Garmin - Slipstream 4h 56' 20" + 00' 14"
6. Joost Posthuma Rabobank 4h 56' 24" + 00' 18"
7. Sylvain Chavenel Quick Step 4h 56' 25" + 00' 19"
8. Antonio Colom Team Katusha 4h 56' 25" + 00' 19"
9. Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team 4h 56' 26" + 00' 20"
10. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha 4h 56' 27" + 00' 21"
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.