Quick-Step Floors will go into the stage 3 team time trial with two riders in the top 10 overall.
The eight-day World Tour race continued with a 180.5km stage between Montbrison and Belleville en Beaujolais, a town founded by Humbert III, Lord of Beaujeu, in the 12th century. Runner-up on the previous day, Julian Alaphilippe wore the green jersey on this stage which was animated by a four-man breakaway – Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Nikita Stalnov (Astana) – whose maximum advantage didn't exceed five minutes.
With the finish clearly suited to sprinters, several teams joined hands on the fifth climb of the day and rode a hard tempo to drop the fast men, who got distanced on Col du Fût d'Avenas (3.8km, 6.8%) and couldn't return to the front anymore, despite the last 30 kilometers being in a downhill which ended in the town of Belleville, a stage finish on six occasions at Paris-Nice, last time in 2014.
The gap of the escapees was also reduced and the attackers got reeled in one by one, with Stalnov the last man to be overhauled by a frantic peloton some 900 meters from the finish. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) came out on top after yet another chaotic sprint, beating Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), the new leader of the overall standings.
Bob Jungels and Julian Alaphilippe crossed the finish line safely and retained their position in the general classification top 5, ahead of the first major test of the race, a team time trial between Pont-de-Vaux and Louhans-Châteaurenau, held on Wednesday over 35 kilometers, the same distance the riders will tackle on stage 3 of the Tour de France, next month.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images