Steegmans on the double in Paris-Nice

Belgian gets two from two

Belgian Gert Steegmans continued his winning form on Tuesday claiming the second stage of the Paris-Nice cycling race ahead of race leader Thor Hushovd of Norway.

It was the second consecutive stage win for Quick Step rider Steegmans who won a sprint finish ahead of Credit Agricole's Hushovd, France's Sylvain Chavanel and Swiss Michael Albasini.

"The aim was to win one stage. Today, it wasn't really planned but it feels good," said Steegmans. "Compared to previous years I've more confidence. I've worked with a psychologist and now I feel less stressed. I was too nervous before. When my legs were good I always made mistakes."

Steegmans added: "We decided to control the race with Hushovd's team. We accelerated before the final climb because otherwise it would have been difficult to join the breakaway."

The first peloton, controlled by Belgian Philippe Gilbert, crossed the line several metres behind, after the 201km run under the rain from Nevers to the Beaujolais region.

France's Thierry Hupond from the Dutch Skil team, emerged as potential hope as the 23-year-old lead a long breakaway from the 30km mark, building up a lead of 15 minutes by 105km before being joined just before the summit of the final climb 19.5km from the line.

Luxembourg's Frank Schleck, one of the race favourties, lost three minutes after being caught up in pileup, one of two crashes to disrupt the peloton, some 60km from Belleville.

Hushovd has a three-second advantage on Steegmans in the overall standings going into the third stage, over 165.5km from Fleurie to Saint-Etienne.

"I'm happy to hold the yellow jersey but I'm disappointed to have missed the chance. I'd a real chance to win the stage," said Hushovd.

Hushovd has a three-second advantage on Steegmans in the overall standings going into the third stage, over 165.5km from Fleurie to Saint-Etienne.

For full results, report and photos, see Cyclingnews.com

© AFP 2008

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