Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas did a load of work in the late escape in stage 2 of the 2012 Paris-Nice. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com
ORLÉANS, France (VN) — Despite starting Sunday with a stellar, world-class GC list, the 70th Paris-Nice has been reduced to a three-horse race following Monday’s thrasher of a stage that saw an elite group of 21 riders make it to the finish line.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) climbed into the overall lead after overnight leader Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM) missed the cut and tumbled to 22nd at 2:46 adrift after blustering crosswinds hammered the pack at the feed-zone midway through the 185.5km stage across the wind-swept flats south of Paris.
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) climbed into second at six seconds back while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) slotted into fourth at 14 seconds back.
Other GC threats are still hovering close, with Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan) in sixth at 18 seconds back and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in 11th at 30 seconds back, but Wiggins now says the “Race to the Sun” is three-horse race.
“You had to have the legs to be in that group today,” Wiggins said, who pipped Valverde to win a three-second bonus in the day’s lone sprint in the final hour of racing. “I see Levi and Tejay as the two most dangerous rivals. Levi is always dangerous. You can never discount him. And Tejay is a strong, young rider. Valverde is still close, but there were a lot of big names who were not there.”
Wiggins is right. The pack started to splinter after the race rolled through the feed zone after hitting the day’s lone climb, the Cat. 3 Cote des Granges-le-Roi. Wide-open wheat fields offered little protection from cold, piercing westerly winds.
RadioShack was perhaps the day’s biggest victim, with former winner Andreas Klöden and both of the Schleck brothers missing the cut a day after Andy Schleck lost 1:02 in Sunday’s 9.4km individual time trial to open the race. Defending champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma) also missed the final moves while Rabobank had none of its riders in the front group.
Leipheimer had three bodyguards from Omega Pharma, with stage-winner Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel and
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/03/news/paris-nice-a-three-horse-race-wiggins-levi-tejay-left-standing_208165