Bryan Coquard delivered on a commanding ride from his Cofidis team to win stage two of the Tour de la Provence.
Coquard outsprinted Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) in the reduced bunch sprint in Manosque after his team worked to drop some of the fastest finishers on the final climb of the day.
The victory is Coquard’s second of the season as he continues to surge back into form with Cofidis after transferring from B&B Hotels this off-season.
— Team Cofidis (@TeamCOFIDIS) February 12, 2022
Ganna’s third-place on the stage was enough to see him retain the leader’s jersey ahead of the decisive summit finish that wraps up the race Sunday.
Coquard’s Cofidis crew lit up the action at around 25km to go as it worked to drop the pure sprinters on the Col de l’Aire dei Masco climb.
Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) was among a score of riders distanced by the sizzling pace on the Masco ascent. Ineos Grenadiers lost its second sprint option soon after when Ethan Hayter was dropped out the back of the fast-charging lead group on the technical descent that followed.
The surging pace in the lead peloton through the grippy, rolling final saw penultimate breakaway rider Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies) swept up at 13km to go, but a resilient Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels) continued to command 50 seconds over the bunch in a late-race pursuit match.
Gougeard hung tough out front all the way through to 2km to go as the teams behind took time to commit to the chase in a group containing a handful of tough-guy sprinters including Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Mads Würts Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech).
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl lit it up for Alaphilippe in the final 1500 meters before Latour opened the sprint early. Coquard followed Latour before diving around Ganna as he launched a huge grinding acceleration toward his second win of the season.
The GC will be decided in the 17km haul up to the Montagne de Lure finish line in the Provence’s closing stage Sunday. At some 88kg, Ganna will have to work hard to keep hold of his leader’s jersey.
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) February 12, 2022
Tour de La Provence stage 2:
- Bryan Coquard (Cofidis): 4:19:42
- Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): S.T
- Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers): S.T
Tour de La Provence GC
- Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers): 7:45:43
- Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): +0:02
- Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies): +0:14