Belgian cyclist Tom Boonen on Monday won the 185km second stage of the Paris-Nice classic in Orleans but Britain’s Bradley Wiggins moved up from second to take the leader’s yellow jersey.
Omega Pharma rider Boonen outsprinted 20 other riders to cross the line first, beating challengers including Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, Americans Levi Leipheimer and Tejay Van Garderen, as well as French champion Sylvain Chavanel.
The leading group broke away with 80 kilometres to go on a wind-affected route and put nearly two-and-a-half minutes between themselves and the chasing pack.
Spain’s Jose Joaquin Rojas and Germany’s John Degenkolb were second and third behind experienced 31-year-old Boonen, a former world champion in 2005 who has won the Paris-Roubaix classic three times.
Sweden’s Gustav Larsson had been in yellow after the first stage time-trial, with Wiggins second.
Britain’s Olympic champion from the Team Sky outfit is now six seconds ahead of Leipheimer.
Simon Gerrans was the best-placed Australia, the GreenEdge rider finishing in the bunch to sit in 33rd place almost three minutes off the pace.
On Tuesday, the third stage takes the riders 194km from Vierzon to Vassiviere.