Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) claimed the stage victory and the yellow jersey by outsprinting Marc Hirschi (Swuneb) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) at the end of an exciting stage 2 in Nice.
A select chasing group of 32 riders came in just two seconds down on Alaphilippe, with Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) pipping Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) to fourth place.
Despite crashing on the final ascent after touching wheels with Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos), Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) came home safely in that group among the principal overall contenders, though Criterium du Dauphiné winner Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) was less fortunate after his crash on the descent of the preceding Col d’Èze. Although he latched back on initially, he was distanced once the road climbed again and he came home 3:38 down.
In the overall standings, Alaphilippe holds a lead of four seconds over Yates with Hirschi a further three seconds back in third, while Higuita and the other GC contenders are 17 seconds behind the Frenchman.
Of the two South Africans in the race, Daryl Impey, riding for Australia’s Mitchelton-Scott team, finished 116th on the day, some 20min 42sec behind Alaphilippe, while Ryan Gibbons, cycling for NTT Pro Cycling, placed 150, heading the bunch over the line that arrived 28:55 behind the stage winner.
‘I’m as good as one can be after a six-hour day with broken ribs,’ Gibbons said, after referring to Saturday’s opening stage where he fell and further damaged broken ribs on his left side. ‘I’m just pleased to get through the day and to be in one piece. The best thing for an injury is always to rest and a brutal day like today isn’t the best thing for it, but I got through it.
‘We were a bit worried about that this morning but the fact that I was able to get through it is definitely positive, so hopefully I can continue getting better. For Monday, on the face of it, it’s a sprint day,’ he added.