Dutchman Cees Bool (Team DSM) outwitted the rest of the bunch to raise his arms on the last stretch of the second stage in Amilly, but the main actor of the day was Australia’s Michael Matthews (Bike Exchange), who collected bonus points on the 188 km of the days’ ride before finishing third to rid Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) of the leader’s jersey.
“Bling”, who already held the yellow and white jersey in 2016 until the pen ultimate day, picked five seconds in the bonus sprints to move level with Bennett and his podium placing was enough to repeat the feat. Denmark’s Mads Pedersen, was second in the stage behind Bol and also lies second overall.
Stage 2 started at 11:49 without 2013 and 2015 race winner Richie Porte, forced out in a crash on stage 1. The break of the day took place at kilometre 17.5 when Belgians Sander Armee (Qhubeka) and Dries de Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) parted with the rest of the peloton. The pack gave them the go-ahead and the duo gradually increased their lead, which topped at 4:25 at kilometre 33 and remained stable at around three minutes until the day’s climb, Cote des Granges-le-Roi at km 72.2.
Armee was first ahead of De Dondt at the top of the climb with Fabien Doubey (Total Direct Energie) snatching the remaining point to secure the polka-dot jersey until Thursday as there are no climbs in Tuesday’s stage 3. The peloton split into several echelons after Trek-Segafredo upped the pace and the two escapees were brought back at kilometre 84. The second part of the bunch, in which featured Steven Kruiswijk among others, finally regrouped a few kilometres further down the road, shortly before the first bonus sprint of the day, taken by Michael Matthews (Bike Exchange).
Matthews bonus collector
With 70 km top go Deceuninck-Quick Step also increased the tempo in the crosswinds, splitting the pack into three echelons. Kruijswijk was again among the riders dropped by the front of the bunch but the pack regrouped once more. Andre Greipel (Israel Startup Nation) won the second bonus sprint ahead of Matthews, and the Australian found himself level with Sam Bennett on time in the GC before the final sprint. Shortly after the sprint, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) crashed but was quickly back on his bike. It was not the case of Alexis Vuillermoz (Total Direct Energie), who was forced to call it quits with a suspected collarbone injury in a later pile-up.
Bol makes it at last
A last crash involved Gregor Muehlberger (Movistar) and Daniel Arroyave (EF Education-Nippo) before the stage was set for the final bunch sprint. Trek-Segafredo led for most of the last two kilometres to position Mads Pedersen ideally, while Sam Bennett was blocked a bit behind after a crash took place in the last corner. But Cees Bol was the most cunning of a lot as he surged behind Pedersen and France’s Bryan Coquard to snatch his most emphatic win to date after several top five placings in the last Tour de France.