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Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren) took the sprint for stage 2 of La Route d’Occitanie Sunday.
The Italian fastman beat overnight GC leader Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels) and Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie) into second and third respectively on the grinding false flat to the line at Cap Découverte.
After placing third behind Coquard on Saturday’s opening stage, the Bahrain-McLaren sprinter’s persistence paid off with his stage 2 victory. However Coquard’s podium position did enough to see him keep hold of the overall lead.
Behind the sprint, a crash at around three kilometers to go brought down a number of riders, though all the GC contenders including Egan Bernal, Chris Froome (both Ineos), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Miguel Angel López (Astana), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) came through without losing time.
The 175-kilometer stage on the fringes of the Pyrenees saw the peloton take on a handful of categorized climbs, though none tough enough to put the sprinters into trouble.
With the GC contenders saving their powder for the high mountain showdown likely to dictate the overall Monday, the peloton was content letting break of six go away early, and giving them a long leash of up to seven minutes.
However, with the sprint teams intent on giving their leaders another chance after Saturday’s crash-marred finale, the gap began to tumble rapidly under the horsepower of Cofidis, B&B Hotels, Bahrain McLaren and Total Direct Energie.
Emil Vinjebo (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team) gamely hung on as the last of the six breakaway riders to be hoovered up with the peloton, with the Dane lasting until the final kilometer before being caught.
With the race back together, it was all set for a sprint, and Colbrelli delivered after coming so close on stage 1.
The likes of Bernal, Froome, and Pinot will be put to the test Monday after the easier opening stages, with two major mountain passes to fight over before a tough summit finish for the decisive third stage of the race.
Stage 2: Top 3:
- Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren): 4:22:22
- Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels): at s.t.
- Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie): at s.t.
GC after stage 2
- Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels): 8:57:06
- Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren): +00:02
- Elia Viviani (Cofidis): +00:10