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Hofland wins stage 2 at Paris-Nice

Moreno Hofland won stage 2 of Paris-Nice Monday in Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche, France. Hofland (Belkin) was fastest in the bunch sprint to close the 205-kilometer leg from Rambouillet.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second. Overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) was third.

“I’m a bit surprised because with 1K to go we were a bit too far behind,” said Hofland, who worked his way up to Degenkolb’s wheel for the finale. “With 300 meters [to go], a little bit early, I went to try and surprise him.”

The surprise worked and Hofland shot up the right side of the road for the first WorldTour win of his career.

Bouhanni defended yellow. The stage 1 winner at the 2013 Paris-Nice, Bouhanni crashed heavily in the race’s second leg a year ago and abandoned in the leader’s jersey.

“I was a little apprehensive before today’s stage. I thought a lot about the crash from last year,” he said Monday. “I really did suffer. The first 100km felt bad, but I think it will get better.”

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a bonus second late in the stage, becoming the virtual leader on the road. But a late crash with Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Sky), Lars Boom (Belkin), and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) cost the Belgian his shot at the sprint and the overall lead.

Boom suffered a fractured elbow in the crash.

“Lars Boom has a minor fracture in his right elbow,” Belkin said in a statement. “He will receive an in-dept medical check up in the Netherlands tomorrow.”

Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling) and Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) broke away 2.5km into the stage and held off the bunch for nearly the entire day. The duo took a maximum advantage of 11:30 after 31.5km. Delaplace gave up the ghost 12km from the finish. Saramotins continued on alone, but the peloton overcame him inside the final 3km.

“I want to give my everything to the Paris-Nice,” said Saramotins. “We came here to win the overall with Sylvain Chavanel. And when I set off in the break for the day, I thought it would be a good way to relieve the team of any chasing duties throughout the stage.”

Paris-Nice continues Tuesday with the 180km third stage from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.

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