BRADLEY WIGGINS GAINED the overall lead in the Paris-Nice cycling race on Monday after Belgian Tom Boonen won the second stage.
Boonen crossed the line in Orleans ahead of Spain’s Jose Joaquin Rojas and German John Degenkolb after the peloton was splintered on the 185.5 km stage by crosswinds and rain.
Team Sky’s Wiggins was part of a 21-man breakaway which finished two minutes ahead of the main group, which included overnight leader Gustav Larsson and Ireland’s Nicolas Roche.
Wiggins now leads American Levi Leipheimer by six seconds in the overall standings and Boonen by seven. Roche is in 63rd place overall, three minutes and 12 seconds back.
With the opening part of the stage ridden into a headwind there was little scope, or inclination, for riders to make a break.
However, when the crosswinds began to wreak havoc, a group of riders, which eventually swelled to 30, broke away from a disorganised peloton and opened a gap they would never relinquish.
A crash reduced the number to 21 which included Wiggins’ team-mate Geraint Thomas, Omega Pharma Quick Steps’ Leipheimer as well as two of his team-mates, Sylvain Chavanel and Boonen.
– Additional reporting by Niall Kelly