Moreno Hofland wins 2nd stage of Paris-Nice race

SAINT-GEORGES-SUR-BAULCHE, France (AP) Moreno Hofland of the Netherlands won the second stage of the Paris-Nice race in a sprint finish on Monday, and Nacer Bouhanni of France retained the overall lead.

The 22-year-old Hofland won in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 46 seconds on the 205-kilometer (127-mile) trek from Rambouillet to Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche for his first career stage win. The Dutchman moved into third place overall.

”It’s a little bit of a surprise because with one kilometer to go I was too far away,” Hofland said. ”But in the end I managed to get on John Degenkolb’s wheel and then I decided to attack early in order to surprise him a bit. I’ve been in good form these past few weeks and I hope to keep it going.”

Degenkolb finished second and stayed in second overall, two seconds benind Bouhanni, who finished third. Bouhanni won Sunday’s first stage despite falling and needing treatment for cuts to his left knee.

”I was a little bit apprehensive, but it was a good day for me,” Bouhanni said. ”I felt a bit of pain in my knee over the first 100 kilometers (62 miles) but then after that it went away. I wasn’t even thinking about it at the end and it didn’t bother me when I was sprinting.”

Aleksejs Saramotins of Latvia and Anthony Delaplace of France broke away early and opened up a sizeable lead, but with 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) to go they were only three minutes ahead of the chasing pack and were caught shortly after.

Nearing the finish, a crash brought down several sprinters hoping to compete for the stage win, including American rider Tyler Farrar, Lars Boom of the Netherlands and Gianni Meersman of Belgium, who was third in Sunday’s stage.

Tuesday’s third stage is mostly flat, with the exception of one small Category 3 climb, and takes riders over 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, a motor racing circuit located in central France which hosted Formula One races until 2008.