Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) backed up his opening-day triumph at the Route du Sud with another sprint victory on the short stage 2 on Friday morning.
The Frenchman was once again a convincing winner in the bunch gallop, bursting forward in his orange race leader’s jersey to cross the line ahead of Stéphane Poulhiès (Armée de Terre) and Manuele Belletti (Wilier Triestina-Southeast).
Arnaud Démare, who was second on the opening stage and whose FDJ teammates were major contributors to the chase of the breakaway today, could only manage 9th. For Coquard it was an 11th stage win of 2016 – which has also seen two general classification victories – as the 24-year-old continues to enjoy his most successful season to date.
The stage from Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy to Albi was just over 90km in length and the first in a Friday double-header, with a 13.4km individual time trial to take place in the afternoon.
As on the opening day, there was a breakaway duo, this time formed by Romain Hardy (Cofidis) and Julien Bérard (AG2R-La Mondiale). They had a lead of three minutes at one point, but with just one second-category climb on the menu – positioned in the first half of the parcours – the sprinters teams were always going to hold the advantage.
Once again it was Direct Energie and FDJ who led the chase and they brought it back with 10km to go, whereupon the trains jostled for position. In the end, though, it was Coquard who was again delivered perfectly, and again perfectly delivered himself.
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