AMILLY, France (AP) Bahrain-Merida rider Sonny Colbrelli sprinted to victory Monday in the second stage of the Paris-Nice race.
The Italian started his sprint with about 200 meters (yards) to go and held off John Degenkolb to claim the most important win of his career by half-a-bike length.
Arnaud Demare was third on the flat 195-kilometer (121-mile) route from Rochefort-en-Yvelines to Amilly in the Loire valley.
''It's the greatest victory of my career. It's incredible,'' said Colbrelli, who burst into tears after crossing the line. ''I managed a perfect sprint and to beat riders like Degenkolb or even (Marcel) Kittel just shows that.
''Of course I have Milan-San Remo in mind. Everyone knows that Paris-Nice is the perfect preparation for that race. But it's not over yet, I still want to manage things this week.''
Demare, who won the opening stage, remains in the overall lead, six seconds ahead of Julian Alaphilippe. Philippe Gilbert is third, a further 11 seconds behind.
Richie Porte had a torrid time in the crosswinds and fell more than 15 minutes off the pace as his hopes for a third title all but evaporated.
Another two-time champion, Alberto Contador, is 1:18 behind Demare.
Tuesday's third stage is again mainly flat and there is more rain and wind expected along the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Chablis to Chalon-sur-Saon.
The race ends Sunday in the southern city of Nice.