The second stage of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes towards Vence was expected to be more selective than the day before. It was indeed, but probably not enough to benefit the Groupama-FDJ riders. A sprint of about twenty riders concluded the day, and Romain Grégoire fought hard to take fifth place. Overall, the young Frenchman eventually got seventh place, and Quentin Pacher ninth place, both ten seconds behind the final winner Benoît Cosnefroy.

Although the elevation gain was slightly lower than that of the previous day, stage 2 of the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes included bigger climbs throughout its route. The Col d’Èze and the Col de Châteauneuf featured in the first fifty kilometers, while the Montée de la Sine appeared as the decisive climb, since its summit was located only three kilometres from the finish line. The terrain could therefore, theoretically, make for a hard race. “I surely expected more action in the col d’Èze and col de Châteauneuf,” yet said Benoît Vaugrenard. “In the end, everyone was watching each other, and no one really wanted to pull. It was weird.” After the day’s two biggest climbs, the peloton was still quite big behind a breakaway made up of Maxime Jarnet (Van Rysel-Roubaix), Noah Detalle (Bingoal-WB), Axel Narbonne-Zuccarelli, Melvin Crommelinck (Nice Métropole Côte d’Azur) and Matteo Milan (Lidl-Trek Future Racing). The Groupama-FDJ cycling team focused on tackling the various downhills in good position, then the attacks followed one another on the Carros climb, fifty kilometers from the finish. It didn’t, however, create any big damage.

“I didn’t expect a race like this at all”, Romain Grégoire

Eventually, a few offensives managed to open a gap on the following plateau. Around ten men, including Lars van den Berg, broke away from the bunch and caught the breakaway. In the back, the pack then stopped chasing for several minutes. “When Lars went away, it became very tactical,” Benoît added. “We knew it before coming, and we had to play smart.” In the long, slightly downhill road leading to the final climb of the day, the peloton eventually resumed the chase and caught most of the leading riders. Only Ewen Costiou and Steffen De Schuyteneer kept a small gap of one minute fifteen kilometers from the finish. The Frenchman then tackled the steady Montée de la Sine (3.6 km at 5.3%) twenty seconds ahead of the peloton, where Romain Grégoire tried to make a push. The young man accelerated a few times, Kevin Geniets and Quentin Pacher also followed counterattacks, but no gap was made. Costiou was caught, but then took advantage of some hesitation in the peloton to pass the summit in the lead. Shortly after, Romain Grégoire still bridged across, but with a group of about twenty riders in his wheel.

On the flat, last three kilometers, a few riders tried to anticipate, but a sprint did decide the day’s outcome. Initially in a good position on the right of the road, Romain Grégoire and Quentin Pacher got overwhelmed by a wave coming from the left, and from which came the winner Benoît Cosnefroy. Romain Grégoire finally took fifth place. “I am obviously disappointed and frustrated,” he said. “I didn’t expect a race like this at all this morning. We’re not used to racing like juniors. In the end, it comes down to small details and it didn’t really go our way. That said, I don’t see what else we could have done tactically. There wasn’t much more we could do given the race scenario. We just had to be patient and have the kick and/or the luck to win.” “There were still a lot of riders in the final, given that there wasn’t a lot of racing prior, compared to other years,” noted Benoît. “We were there, but it was still a high level, and it was difficult to make any gaps. Today, you needed to have a good sprint. We’re still disappointed because we didn’t come here to take a top 10.” At the end of the two days of racing, Romain Grégoire and Quentin Pacher respectively took seventh and ninth places overall, ten seconds behind the stage and GC winner Benoît Cosnefroy. Just like Kevin Geniets, twelfth of the final ranking.

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