Tadej Pogacar is second overall at Paris-Nice and leads the best young rider standings

Fontainebleau (France) (AFP) - Former world champion Mads Pedersen won a chaotic mass bunch sprint for the finish line at Fontainebleau on Monday to take stage two of the Paris-Nice and claim the overall lead in the eight-day cycling race.

The ‘Race to the Sun’ dashes from Paris down the Rhone valley to the French Riviera and its stages pack in a variety of challenges and terrain and is seen as a mini Tour de France.

Monday’s second stage ended in Fontainebleau, a town where a chateau that belonged to French kings is located.

A crash just ahead of the finale smashed what should have been a regular bunch sprint, as Denmark’s Pedersen took advantage to sprint early and edge out Jumbo-Visma’s Olav Kooij and fellow Dane Magnus Cort.

Team UAE Emirates superstar Tadej Pogacar showed his maverick side again bursting out of the peloton at 74km to win a six second bonus in an intermediate sprint for a second consecutive day that leaves the Slovenian two-time Tour de France winner second in the overall rankings.

“That leaves me a little more confident going into tomorrow, it’ll be a tough day, a long time-trial,” said Pogacar.

The race pitches Pogacar against Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, supported by Australian Rohan Dennis and the powerful Jumbo outfit.

Paris-Nice presents a rare team time-trial in open wind-exposed plains on Tuesday, with entire outfits racing together against the clock over a 32km route likely to produce gaps in the standings.

The race then continues its road south through the Rhone Valley and its hilly surroundings before two mountain stages around Riviera city Nice.