Dylan sings again
March 11 th 2019 - 16:18
Dylan Groenewegen beat the wind, echelons, crashes and his rivals to snatch his second stage win in succession in Paris-Nice and strengthen his leader's yellow jersey in Bellegarde. The Dutchman managed to stay in the last group of seven riders left to battle it out for victory after a fast and hard stage that gradually depleted the peloton to overpower Spain's Ivan Garcia and Belgium Philippe Gilbert on the line. The day, swept by crosswinds, was merciless for France's Warren Barguil and Spain's Gorka Izagirre, third a year ago, both forced out of the race after a crash.
158 riders started from Les Breviaires at 12:51. The presence of Cote de Senlisse (3rd cat.) at km 26.5 spurred KOM leader Damien Gaudin into action and the Frenchman attacked from the flag, followed by Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Alessandro de Marchi (CCC). The trio built a lead of over a minute until the climb, on which Gaudin collected four more point to strengthen his polka-dot jersey. Soon after the climb, the peloton split in several echelons.
Barguil and Izagirre out
The scattered peloton bridged the gap with the escapees as race leader Groenewegen remained safely in the first part of the pack. The trio were reeled in at kilometer 36.5 as the peloton gradually regrouped. The second climb saw Florian Senechal (Deceuninck-Quick Step) take the four points. Shortly afterwards (Km 58) the pack split again in several echelons as a crash involved Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Warren Barguil (Areka Samsic) and Tao Goeghegan Hart, among others. Barguil and Izagirre were unable to make it back on their bikes and called it quits.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) were among the riders trapped in one of the dropped echelons. At the first intermediate sprint in Mereville, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) made his ambitions clear by picking three points ahead of Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ). The peloton kept splitting into dozens of echelons with riders scattered all over the windswept stretches of flat land. While Jungels made it back near the front, it was not the case of Simon Yates, drifting at the back. At km 108, Groenewegen and green jersey holder Fabio Jakobsen were also dropped from the front but the yellow jersey made it back 10 km further down the road with the help of four team-mates.
24 in the lead
In the last 40 km, a group of 23 riders emerged, including Quintana (Movistar), Roelandts (Movistar), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Maes (Lotto-Soudal), Garcia (Bahrain-Merida), Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Bardet, Gallopin, Naesen, Vandenbergh (AG2R), Bernal, Rowe (Sky), Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Demare, Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Gilbert, Jungels(Deceuninck-Quick Step), Kittel (Katusha), Greipel (Arkea), Groenewegen, Jansen, Wynants, Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma), Heisel (Dimension Data). Kwiatkowski was dropped after a mechanical while Rigoberto Uran (Education First) crashed.
On the first passage on the line, local favorite Tony Gallopin took the second intermediate sprint ahead of leader Romain Bardet as the front group still led by one minute.
Gronewegen is the strongest
In the final circuit around Bellegarde, the Kwiatkowski group slowly bridged the gap and the junction took place 10 km from the line. With 3 km to go, another split took place and Trentin, Sanchez, Garcia, Rowe, Bernal, Kwiatkowski, Gilbert, and Groenewegen found themselves in the lead to battle it out for the stage win. In the last stretch, Groenewegen was logically too strong for his rivals and comfortably collected his second stage win in succession to strengthen his yellow jersey