• Fighting with Nacer Bouhanni may be the least of Matthews obstacles (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian race leader Michael Matthews has taken out the second stage of the Paris-Nice race, after rival Nacer Bouhanni was penalised.
Cycling Central

9 Mar 2016 - 7:38 AM 

Race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) has won the second stage of Paris-Nice after Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) was penalised for deviating from his line in the final sprint.

Tuesday's win was the Australian's second stage victory in three days after winning Sunday's prologue.

Matthews crossed the finish line in second position at the end of the 213.5km ride between Contres and Commentry in central France, but Bouhanni was sanctioned for improperly blocking his Australian rival.

Bouhanni left his line to shoulder Matthews as the Australian tried to jump off the Frenchman's wheel on the left side of the road. They bumped shoulders and narrowly avoided a crash in the finale.

"I think Bouhanni changed his line. I nearly crashed," Matthews said.

"It's always difficult to sprint at the end of such a long stage. It's unfortunate but either way I would have won because I was coming around him and I would have won if we hadn't touched. Two out of three, it's exceptional."

Bouhanni and Matthews shouted at each other after the finish.

With the time bonus for the steg win, Matthews now leads Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) by 14 seconds, with New Zealands Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) in third place, 19 seconds off the pace.

Wednesday's third stage leads the peloton to the Mont Brouilly, a 3.3km mild climb in the picturesque Beaujolais vineyards.

"Of course tomorrow will be hard for everyone. We climbed Mont Brouilly in Paris-Nice two years ago but we finished at the bottom, not the top," Matthews said.