The profiles of the first two stages of the 2019 Paris-Nice look like they would elicit a predictable narrative arc of breakaway, catch and bunch sprint, but winds and crashes have created chaos, eliminating several pre-race favourites from any chance of taking the title. Canada’s Hugo Houle had been in the top-21 on both days and sits 19th on GC.

Sunday’s echelons and crash disturbances led to a 60-rider group fighting it out for the win in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen prevailed, and GC hopes were dashed for Astana’s Jon Izagirre and Angel Lopez, Mitchelton-Scott’s Esteban Chaves, reigning champ Marc Soler of Movistar and Sky’s new climbing ace, Ivan Sosa, who all finished at least a minute down.

This year’s Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana winner Jon Izagirre was one of three Astana GC favourites to have his hopes dashed early in Paris-Nice.

Monday’s action was perhaps even more frantic, with the breakaway caught at the beginning of the middle third of 163-km. Astana suffered even more when Gorka Izagirre crashed out. A small leading group with AG2R doing a lot of the work toiled to make sure Simon Yates; Rigoberto Uran, who suffered a crash; and Michal Kwiatkowski, delayed by a mechanical, didn’t make it back before the finale in Bellegarde.

Kwiatkowski came back and Sky turned on the gas, creating an octet of riders that shed the AG2R riders entirely. From this group Groenewegen took the win again. Groenewegen leads Kwiatkowski by 12-seconds and LL Sanchez, Astana’s last man standing, by 13-seconds.

Hugo Houle, 21st on Sunday, was 17th on Monday and sits above Nairo Quintana in the GC.

Uran fractured his clavicle and had to abandon the race.

2019 Paris-Nice GC after two stages

1) Dylan Groenewegen (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) 6:31:19
2) Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland/Sky) +0:12
3) LL Sanchez (Spain/Astana) +0:13
4) Philippe Gilbert (Belgium/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:16
5) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Sky) +0:19
9) Romain Bardet (France/AG2R) +0:23
19) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +0:24
23) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar) s.t.

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