Franceâ€™s William Bonnet surged to victory in the 201-kms second stage to Limoges in a crash-marred finale that saw some of the leading sprinters in the bunch hit the tarmac.The BBox team sprinter won ahead of Slovakiaâ€™s Peter Sagan (Liquigas), the youngest rider in the peloton, while title-holder Luis-Leon Sanchez collected more precious seconds by finishing third.Overall, Lars Boom retained his overall lead of five seconds over Jens Voigt (Team Saxo Bank) but Sanchez is now third, 10 seconds adrift.Jimmy Casper (Saur Sojasun) and Grega Bole (Lampre) hit the deck in the last stretch when the Slovenian crashed in front of the Frenchman.
The start was given at 11:54 to 172 riders Four men broke after four kilometres:.
Mauro Finetto (Liquigas), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Laurent Mangel (Saur Sojasun), Koen de Kort (Skil Shimano). First at the top of the 3rd cat. Cote de St Aignan, Mangel took the lead of the mountains classification. The lead of the four topped at 4:15 (km 44). Mouris won the first sprint in Le Blanc (km 92.5) ahead of Mangel and Finetto.
Polka-dot for Mangel
The lead remained stable at around three minutes before km 140 when Team HTC Columbia seized the peloton reins had raised the tempo. The gap steadily decreased to reach 1:25 (km 150). Mangel just had the time to secure the polka-dot jersey and win the last sprint before the peloton, led by the Astana and the Rabobank, gradually reduced the gap (30 seconds with 25 kms to go). Twenty kilometres from the finish, Finetto and De Koert waited for the bunch while Mangel and Mouris went ahead.
Mangel refused to call it quits and remained on his own until kilometre 183 when the main pack finally regrouped. On the last climb, the Cote de Nieul (km 190) Cyril Gautier (Bbox) surged and reached the top on his own, followed by Mangel, who added two points to his mountain classification tally. Gautier retained a 10-second lead with 5 kms to go but was finally reined in a kilometre down the road. Columbia, Quick Step and Sojasun led the way to set up the final sprint when Grega Bole (Lampre) crashed in frront of Jimmy Casper (Saur Sojasun). The incident caused havoc in the bunch and Sanchez went, followed by Sagan and Bonnet, who overtook the other two to win the stage.
Itâ€™s the most beautiful win in my career. I used to work a lot for Thor Hushovd when I was with Credit Agricole. I have more freedom to play my own cards since I joined Bbox. I hope itâ€™s the first great win but that more will follow. There were only two days for sprinters in this Paris-Nice so I think tahtâ€™s it but I have other goals in the early season â€“ to do well in Milan-San Remo and in the Spring classics, and above all Paris-Roubaix.
There was a lot of tension in the last ten kilometres as the Colombia wanted to set up Greipel and the Liquigas Chicchi. With 4 kms to go, the Quick Step raied the tempo and I managed to take the good wheels. Later on there was a bad crash but I managed to go around it and to follow Sanchez who launched the sprint with 400 kms to go. I gave it my all but the last 100 metres were long. I really went for it.
Top three placings in the stage:
1. William Bonnet (Fra, Bbox)
2. Peter Sagan (Svk, Liquigas)
3. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Esp, Caisse d’Epargne)
Among the riders to crash in the last strtech were Jimmy Casper, Grega Bole and Daniel Martin.
William Bonnet outsprints the bunch for the stage win.
Four riders on the tarmac.
Last kilometre and Saur Sojasun still lead.
Every day, Bernard Hinault gives his views about the day’s stage and the riders to watch:
To me, the move by team Caisse d’Epargne took place a litle bit too late. GIven the conditions on the day, they really could have struck earlier. We noticed during the stage that they toughened the pace several time. And everytime they brought the peloton to breaking point. By insisting a little bit, 50 kms from the finish for instance, they could have made a difference of three to four minutes. With this kind of weather and on this kind of roads, it’s very difficult to come back. I don’t think Contador was not cautious enough, I simply notice he is not comfortable with ’bordures’. It’s probably his only weak spot. In this respect, his team must learn to protect him because we could find ourselves in the same situation on the Tour, especially in Holland where it could be ven more windy. In the first three days, there could be splits any time.