Boonen wins and Wiggins flying. Big break in Paris-Nice.
Day two in Paris-Nice, Wiggins still flying.
That’s the word that Wiggins used to describe his performance in the opening prologue time trial. Today on the roads between Mantes – La Joile and Orleans, he was flying again.
The Brit made the decisive (and large) break that took advantage of the change in wind direction to destroy the overall chances of Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling) and last year’s winner Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). The brothers Schleck were also caught behind but nobody was expecting fireworks from Luxembourg.
It seemed like the whole Omega Pharma squad except Martin made the crucial split. That yielded two nice rewards. Tom Boonen won the stage in front of Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and John Degenkolb (Project 1T4i). That, and Leipheimer finds himself in second place overall, six seconds behind Wiggins. Little Levi has been riding at a high level since the Tour of San Luis down in Argentina.
It was right after the feed zone that the race split into pieces, echelons, winners and losers. Wiggins drove the break so hard he consistently opened gaps and had to ease off the gas. Considering the high quality of the riders in the break, that was impressive.
Here is the tow-list for Wiggins: Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan), Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins (Sky), John Degenkolb (Project 1t4i), Seb Vanmarcke, Andreas Klier (Garmin-Barracuda), Robert Kiserlovski, Francesco Gavazzi, (Astana), Anthony Ravard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Taylor Phinney and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ-BigMat), Alejandro Valverde and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Angel Vicioso and Simon Spilak (Katusha). That’s a lot of free rides to hand out to the kids.
By the time they crossed the Loire at Jargeau they had 2:20 on the bunch unsuccessfully grinding away behind them. This was potentially the break of Paris-Nice, the Race to the Occasional Sun, and Wiggins kept it floored. Special props to the BMC kids: Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney were both paying attention when the race exploded.
Boonen took a nice win to make up for his misjudged sprint in Omlopp but it was Wiggins who put on the show. He was, as he’d be the first to admit, flying.