COMMENTRY, France (AP) Race leader Michael Matthews won the second stage of Paris-Nice on Tuesday after his rival Nacer Bouhanni was penalized for deviating from his line in the final sprint.
It was Matthews' second stage victory in three days after winning Sunday's prologue.
Matthews crossed the finish line in second position at the end of the 213.5-kilometer ride between Contres and Commentry in central France, but Bouhanni was sanctioned for improperly blocking his Australian rival.
Bouhanni leaned on Matthews as the Australian tried to jump out of the Frenchman's wheel on the left side of the road. They bumped into each other and looked like they might fall.
''I think Bouhanni changed his line. I nearly crashed,'' Matthews said. ''It's always difficult to sprint at the end of such a long stage. It's unfortunate but either way I would have won because I was coming around him and I would have won if we hadn't touched. Two out of three, it's exceptional.''
Bouhanni and Matthews shouted at each other after the finish.
With the time bonus, Matthews now leads Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands by 14 seconds, with Patrick Bevin of New Zealand in third place, 19 seconds off the pace.
Wednesday's third stage leads the peloton to the Mont Brouilly, a 3.3-kilometer mild climb in the picturesque Beaujolais vineyards.
''Of course tomorrow will be hard for everyone. We climbed Mont Brouilly in Paris-Nice two years ago but we finished at the bottom, not the top,'' Matthews said.