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Groenewegen wins in vicious wind, Yates loses time at Paris-Nice

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Bellegarde (France) (AFP)

Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen extended his overall lead in the Paris-Nice on Monday winning a reduced sprint in a race ravaged by powerful crosswinds causing ugly crashes and major time losses to several favourites.

Last year's runner up here Britain's Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates lost around seven minutes, while Colombian climber Rigoberto Uran broke his collarbone and French hope Warren Barguil was left with a double fracture to his neck as the so called 'Race to the Sun' fell victim to the weather for a second day as time gaps opened throughout the peloton.

Emerging sprint king Groenewegen, 25, powered through a 50km/h gale to retain his yellow jersey, extending the lead to 12 seconds ahead of team Sky's puncher Michal Kwiatkowski.

Victory was clinched as he beat Spaniard Ivan Garcia and Belgium's Philippe Gilbert in a sprint finish after their leading group escaped the full impact of the crosswind.

"I waited until the very last second," said Groenewegen, whose timing on Monday saw him win by a tyre?s distance.

"We'll be going for the win again tomorrow, apparently there will be a headwind," he said.

"I wouldn't have been good enough to win that stage last year," said the man for whom 2018 was a breakout season.

Sky's Colombian prodigy Egan Bernal was one of the day's winners taking five seconds out of the likes of Romain Bardet and Movistar leader Nairo Quintana, both of whom relied on teammates to deliver them to the finish line without losing much time.

"We just about survived," said Bardet.

"That was maybe one of my three hardest days ever on a bike," he added.

"We have an exceptional team here (AG2R) and when you have guys around you who can win classics it really helps, If I'm still standing today it's thanks to them."

Tuesday's 200km third stage heads south on plains between the town of Cepoy and Moulins/Yzeure in the Auvergne region.

Stage 2 results:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/JUM) 3hrs 14min 04sec, 2. Ivan Garcia Cortina (ESP/BAH) same time, 3. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/QST) s.t. 4. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MIT) s.t., 5. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) s.t. 6. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/AST) s.t., 7. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) s.t., 8. Arnaud Démare (FRA/FDJ) at 5sec, 9. Andre Greipel (GER/ARK) s.t., 10. Mike Teunissen (NEF/JUM) s.t.

Overall standings after stage 2:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (NED/JUM) 6hrs 31mins 19sec, 2. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) at 12sec, 3. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/AST) 13, 4. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/QST) 16, 5. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) 19, 6. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MIT) 20, 7. Tony Gallopin (FRA/ AG2R) 22, 8. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) 23, 9 Romain Bardet (FRA/ AG2R) s.t, 10. Oliver Naesen (BEL/AG2R) 24

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