Today’s 185.5 kilometer long and flat second stage of Paris-Nice from Mantes la Jolie to Orléans in pouring rain and fierce winds became a furious chase between a larger group of big names as Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Sylvain Chavanel and Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma Quick Step) and Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack-Nissan) in the front and a hard-pulling peloton with most of the sprinters behind. Team Saxo Bank Spaniard, Daniel Navarro was in the front group from the get-go but a crash sent him back to the main bunch.
With a two minute gap at the ten kilometer mark, it was clear that the break was likely to last all the way and on the finish line, Tom Boonen demonstrated superb form by sprinting convincingly winning the stage sprint with more than a bike length ahead og nearest opponent, the Spanish national champion Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar).
”Dani (Navarro) was in the front group as he was supposed to be but as someone crashed right in front of him, he was held back. Once again, we’re struck by bad luck that is practically impossible to do anything about. Now, he’s out of the contest for at top ten result overall and the rest of the stages are not hard enough to be able to gain time. Nick (Nuyens) abandoned the stage after two kilometers of racing due to severe pain and we now have to make a new plan for him in order to be ready for the Ronde van Vlaandern,” said Team Saxo Bank’s Tristan Hoffman after the stage.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is the new leader of the race.
Despite the bad luck Team Saxo Bank Dane, Michael Mørkøv sees a number of reasons to remain optimistic:
“I was so happy to see Dani (Navarro) being up there with the very best at the right time today in a group of riders that are al experts in maintaining the high pace on a flat stretch. The fact that he was caught behind a crash is therefore even more painful but there’s no reason to lose our confidence Dani looks incredibly strong and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him in this race. Besides, the rest of us are feeling good and we were well-represented in the chase group and we can’t wait to take on tomorrow’s challenges,” says Michael Mørkøv.
Tomorrow’s stage is a hilly stretch of 194 kilometers with an uphill finish of five kilometers.