Appropriately starting from the ZooParc de Beauval, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) unleashed his inner beast Wednesday in Saint-Amand-Montrond, besting Arnaud Demare ( and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) to win Stage 2 at Paris-Nice.
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

After the day's lone escapee, Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Séché) was caught, Cannondale-Garmin tried to split the peloton in the final 30 kilometres of the 172km stage. Unlike two years ago at the Tour de France, however, the wind was not strong enough to separate the bunch into echelons.

Just when a sprint appeared a fait accompli, Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) broke clear with 9.5km left to race, as Lars Boom (Astana) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) hitched a ride aboard the three-time world time trial champion.

Despite the horsepower up front and cosy cooperation, the trio's tenuous advantage came to nought one-and-a-half kilometres from the line, setting the scene for the second bunch sprint in as many days.

Overnight leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step) finished safely in the pack to retain the yellow jersey over Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), who remain tied on the same time, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) moving from fourth to third overall.

"It was a bit of a surprise to keep (the jersey) today, I saw there are several riders who take seconds in the sprints, they look strong and motivated but my team protected me well," said Kwiatkowski.

"It was a long day, with a man alone in the front, and then it got very nervous towards the end. We went for the stage win with Tony Martin but it unfortunately didn't work out. You never know what to expect with Tony. Sometimes, five seconds is enough for him to keep the bunch at bay."

Wednesday's 179km third stage from Saint-Amand-Montrond to Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule contains three Cat. 3 climbs, though is unlikely to affect the overall classification.

Stage 2:
172km, ZooParc de Beauval-Saint-Aignan to Saint-Amand-Montrond
1 André Greipel (GER) Lotto Soudal 4:30:18
2 Arnaud Demare (FRA)
3 John Degenkolb (GER) Team Giant-Alpecin
4 Michael Matthews (AUS) Orica GreenEdge
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar Team
6 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Moreno Hofland (NED) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8 Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Team Katusha
9 Jonas Vangenechten (BEL) IAM Cycling
10 Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) Lampre-Merida

General Classification
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Etixx-Quick-Step 9:53:16
2 Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team
3 John Degenkolb (GER) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:02
4 Tony Martin (GER) Etixx-Quick-Step 0:00:07
5 Michael Matthews (AUS) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:09
6 Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) Astana Pro Team 0:00:10
7 Lars Boom (NED) Astana Pro Team
8 Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) IAM Cycling
9 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:13