Cycling - Hofland wins stage two, Bouhanni retains lead

Moreno Hofland timed his attack perfectly to snatch stage two of Paris-Nice ahead of John Degenkolb as the race twisted from Rambouillet to Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche on Monday.

Cycling - Hofland wins stage two, Bouhanni retains lead

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Moreno Hofland celebrates victory in stage two of Paris-Nice (AFP)

The Dutch rider positioned himself on Degenkolb’s back wheel before sprinting for home with 200 metres remaining.

It had looked as though Gianni Meersman would take the overall lead after amassing time bonuses during the stage, but a late crash in peloton allowed stage one victor Nacer Bouhanni to grab third and retain the leader’s jersey.

"I'm a little surprised because with one kilometre to go today I was a little too far behind," Hofland said.

"I was in the wheel of John Degenkolb and with 200 metres I went a little early and I managed to surprise him. The last couple of weeks have been going pretty good for me and I hope to hold the form as long as possible."

Any worries of the stage evolving into a cagy battle were dispelled inside the opening two kilometres as Anthony Delaplace and Aleksejs Saramotins broke clear and accumulated a lead in excess of 11 minutes.

But a combined effort from FDJ and Quickstep saw the gap shrink – although it took until 3.3 kilometres from the finish for Saramotins to be overhauled.

A sprint finish ensued with Hofland’s surprise charge catching his rivals unaware as the Belkin rider took victory in four hours, 53 minutes and 46 seconds.

Bouhanni leads Degenkolb by two seconds in the overall standings.

Stage two results

1 Moreno Hofland (NED) Belkin 4:53:46

2 John Degenkolb (GER) Giant +0

3 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) +0

4 Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katyusha +0

5 Thor Hushovd (NOR) BMC Racing +0

6 Bryan Coquard (FRA) Europcar +0

7 Armindo Fonseca (FRA) Bretagne +0

8 Tony Gallopin (FRA) Lotto +0

9 Jens Keukeleire (BEL) Orica +0

10 José Joaquín Rojas (ESP) Movistar +0

Overall standings

1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) 8:46:43

2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano +2

3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team +4

4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky +13

5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar +14

6 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team ST

7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha ST

8 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo ST

9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale ST

10 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge ST

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