Pedersen Sprints to Victory in Stage 2 of Paris-Nice
Stage 2 of Paris-Nice 2023 was a 163.7-kilometer flat stage from Bazainville to Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau is known for the Insead University and the town’s historic opulent palace erected by French royalty and featuring Marie Antoinette’s Turkish boudoir and the Napoleon Museum.
The stage was contested under cold and humid weather conditions. Yesterday’s breakaway participant Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) was the only rider with an appetite for attacking action and took off from the peloton in solo fashion. Apart from small accelerations and attempts now and then, most teams were obviously conserving energy for an exciting sprint finish and tomorrow’s important team time trial.
After many lone kilometers ahead of the main peloton Gregaard was eventually caught as the sprinter teams increased the pace and started the build-up for the fast finale. Gregaard waved to the motorcycle camera before being swallowed by the peloton and celebrated the points he had secured for the climber classification that made it possible for him to take over the red-dotted mountain jersey.
In the final kilometers of the stage the sprinter teams increased the pace as expected and Denmark’s Mads Pedersen of Team Trek-Segafredo crossed the finish line first following an impressive lead-out performance from teammate Alex Kirsch. Jumbo-Visma’s Olav Kooij finished second and Magnus Cort took third for EF Education-EasyPost despite being locked in during the sprint and unable to find the necessary opening to pass the riders in front of him.
Cort appeared to have had the energy in his legs for an even stronger sprint finish but told Roadcycling.com he was happy to see fellow countryman Pedersen take the victory. Cort will continue to work for teamleader Neilson Powless in support of his general classification ambitions in the coming Paris-Nice stages, while hoping the right opportunity will arise for him to use his great form to take a stage win of his own.
"It's nice to start the season well and Paris-Nice is a really nice and historic race so naturally it's great to get a victory here,” Pedersen told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
“It’s also good confirmation ahead of Milan-Sanremo that I did the right training, and my sprint didn’t disappear during the winter months. It’s nice to have a win and it shows some good signs ahead of the Classics and especially the sprints.”
"It will be good for the TTT to have the race leader’s jersey,” Pedersen explained. “We are here with Skjelmose to try to obtain a good general classification result, so it will be really important for our team to do a good team time trial for him tomorrow. It's different because if he wasn't here, we would just cruise around and have some fun for 32 kilometers, but now it's going to be a tough one and it will be full focus for us. I am 100 percent ready to sacrifice myself in yellow for Skjelmose tomorrow.”
In the general classification Pedersen took over the lead from yesterday’s winner Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep). Pedersen is two seconds ahead of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) who secured additional bonification seconds in intermediate sprints during today’s stage. Merlier is third. Tour de France Champion Jonas Vingegaard is 77th, 14 seconds behind Pedersen.
Tuesday’s stage 3 of Paris-Nice 2023 will be a thrilling team time trial contested on a 32.2-kilometer round trip route from Dampierre-en-Burly to Dampierre-en-Burly. Look for General Classification-focused teams to work hard to put their leaders in the absolute best position before the decisive mountain stages of this year’s Paris-Nice and for sprinters positioned high in the current rankings to reach out for the leader’s jersey by delivering a strong performance with their teams in the stunning and beautiful team time trial discipline.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for further coverage from Paris-Nice 2023.