Kwiatkowski up to second after crosswinds test

11 Mar 2019

Kwiatkowski up to second after crosswinds test

Paris-Nice stage two: Les Bréviaires - Bellegarde, 163.5km.

Michal Kwiatkowski and Egan Bernal produced a composed performance in changeable conditions to gain time on their General Classification rivals as Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) won stage two of Paris-Nice.

Kwiatkowski returned from requiring a change of wheel with 50 kilometres to go to sprint to fifth, while Bernal was seventh on a windswept stage which saw the Team Sky duo expertly positioned in the lead echelon for the majority fo the day by Luke Rowe.

Kwiatkowski now sits second overall, 12 seconds behind Groenewegen, while Bernal is fifth (+19") and leads the Young Rider classification. 
Luke Rowe driving the lead group

Luke Rowe driving the lead group

Earlier, the peloton had split and reformed several times in the first 50 kilometres, and Rowe was vital in ensuring Kwiatkowski and Bernal stayed in the lead group throughout the second stage after good work from their teammates early on ensured they were well-placed to jump on any break. 

Bernal was also able to win the first intermediate sprint too, meaning he gained seconds on his GC rivals as the wind continued to play havoc with the race.  

The elite group initially containing 24 riders, but the relentless pace and conditions ensured that the number dwindled as the stage went on, which meant the lead group was caught with 10 kilometres to go.

Unfazed, Rowe waited for the final exposed section that led into the finish line and with six kilometres remaining, headed to the front of the peloton and pulled hard to ensure a very selective of break made it to the finish first to decide the stage between them.   
Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal

It was a nice stage, but also a really hard one. It was windy all day and it was quite stressful in the lead group too."

Egan Bernal:

“It was a nice stage, but also a really hard one. It was windy all day and it was quite stressful in the lead group too. We started with Ivan [Sosa], Sebastian [Henao], Tao [Geoghegan Hart] and Jhonatan [Narvaez] and they put us in the front from kilometre zero, which was good.

“With Kwiato and Luke it is easy to be in the front as the peloton has a lot of respect for them, so it easy for me to follow them and in the final it was good. When you just have to follow it is earlier.

“They told me all day, ‘left, right, over here, stay focused here, we need to move over to the right or the front'. When you have people telling you what you need to do it is much easier!"
Egan Bernal tops the Young Rider classification

Egan Bernal tops the Young Rider classification

Rider of the day

A rider who relishes this type of stage, Rowe was again the main man for Team Sky's GC duo, navigating the multiple splits and reformations of the breaks before instigating a devastating attack in the closing kilometres to shatter the peloton ahead of the final sprint.

What's next?

On paper, Tuesday's 200km test from Cepoy to Moulines to Yzeure looks to be one for the sprinters, but following two days of havoc in the wind, it could be vital for every rider to be attentive in the peloton from kilometre zero.  
Stage two result

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 3:14:04
2. Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida) s.t.
3. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) s.t.
4. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) s.t.
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) s.t.
7. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) s.t.

Overall standings

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) 6:31:19
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +12"
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) +13"
4. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +16"
5. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) +19"