Fabio Jakobsen takes stage two of Paris-Nice as Sam Bennett finishes in pack

Irish sprinter still working his way back to full race fitness

Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen was fastest at the end of stage two of Paris-Nice on Monday, easily winning a breakaway group sprint into the city of Orleans.

The QuickStep Alpha Vinyl rider blasted past the Belgian Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) inside the final 100 metres, taking what is his sixth win of the season.

Sam Bennett also made it into the day's key move, which formed inside 70 kilometres from the finsh when the bunch was exposed to strong crosswinds. Assisted by Irish champion Ryan Mullen plus other riders from the Bora-hansgrohe team, he hoped to contest the sprint.

However, he is still lacking some racing sharpness after missing several months of 2021 through injury and was too far back to be a factor in the final gallop. He rolled in as part of the group led home by Jakobsen, placing 33rd. Mullen was 39th.

Team sports director Torsten Schmidt said that the team is satisfied with Bennett's progress in what is just his second stage race of the season. "With Sam we're happy how he's improving at the moment," he said. "He's still missing a couple per cent but we're confident."

Six stages remain in this year’s Paris-Nice, but Bennett is this week unlikely to add to his career tally of five stage wins in the event. The remaining stages comprise one individual time-trial plus five hilly days.

His main target now will be to continue building race condition.

Paris-Nice, France (WorldTour)

Stage 2, Auffargis to Orléans: 1 Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) 159.2 kilometres in 3:22.54, 2 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 3 C Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), 4 L Mezgec (BikeExchange-Jayco), 5 M Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) all same time

Irish: 33 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), 39 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) both same time

General classification after stage 2: 1 Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) 7:11.15, 2 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at 5 secs, 3 P Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) at 11 secs, 4 P Latour (TotalEnergies) at 36 secs, 5 Z Stybar (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) at 38 secs.

Irish: 51 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2.21, 56 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2.47.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling