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Tour de la Provence: Davide Ballerini makes it two-in-a-row

World champion Julian Alaphilippe crashes near 1 kilometer to go.

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Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) made it two-in-a-row on the second stage of the 2021 Tour de la Provence.

With a win in his jersey pocket from yesterday’s opening stage, the big Italian sprinter already had the confidence in his finishing kick to make a repeat performance.

“What a stage and what a team. They worked all day and I think it’s the best thing to win in the final when you see a team like this,” said Ballerini.

In the long, uphill sprint, Ballerini just barely held off Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) to take the victory.

With the stage 2 win, Ballerini holds onto the overall race leader’s jersey, gaining 10 seconds with a time bonus. He is now 16 seconds ahead of Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) and 19 seconds up on Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers).

Right outside of the red kite marking 1km to go, Ballerini’s teammate and current world champion Julian Alaphilippe tangled with Alexsander Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), and both went down. Alaphilippe recovered and was able to roll through the line, awarded the same time as the main bunch.

The stage opened with five riders — Filippo Conca (Lotto Soudal), Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Énergie), Eduard-Michael Grosu (Delko), Baptiste Bleier (St Michel-Auber 93), and Samuel Leroux (Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole) — quickly establishing a gap on the rolling route.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step was on the front to defend Ballerini, and try to also put Alaphilippe into a good and safe position for the coming climbing stages. Arkéa-Samsic and Movistar also assisted in the chase.

Julian Alaphilippe (center) tangled with Alexsander Vlasov near the end of the stage and wound up on the ground. Photo: James Startt

This work steadily chipped away at the break’s lead, and then very quickly inside of 20km to go. By 4km the group was together, with Astana-Premier Tech doing the work on the front, distancing Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea-Samsic), trying to set up Vlasov.

This acceleration may have been the cause of the touch of wheels with Vlasov and Alaphilippe, causing the two to go down.

With Vlasov on the ground, Astana tried to deliver Omar Fraile for a stage win. Ballerini took advantage of this pull to get into position for his winning, uphill sprint.

2021 Le Tour de la Provence stage 2 results

  1. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)
  2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), at s.t.
  3. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech), at s.t.

2021 Le Tour de la Provence general classification

  1. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 9:04:52
  2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech), at :16
  3. Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), at :19