The Shark of the Strait, aka Vincenzo Nibali, claimed his first stage victory at the Tour de France as he rode away from the main peloton with 2km to go into stage 2 to Sheffield after surviving all the climbs of West and South Yorkshire. The Italian champion is the new race leader with an advantage of two seconds over Peter Sagan who lost the stage but took the lead in the points classification, which is his main goal this year.
Seven riders away at the initiative of Fonseca
Following the news of the abandon of Mark Cavendish (OPQS), the invited Breton team Bretagne-Séché Environnement launched the first attack from the gun for the second straight day with Armindo Fonseca taking with him Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Matthew Busche (Trek), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), David de la Cruz (NetApp-Endura) and Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale). Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol) bridged the gap at km 12 to make it a seven-man breakaway. Their maximum advantage of 3.55 was recorded at km 50. The first part of the race was marred by a few crashes in the peloton, one of them involving yellow jersey wearer Marcel Kittel but with no consequence prior to the first categorized climb. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Tejay van Garderen and Darwin Atapuma (BMC) also went down.
Kadri in action at Holme Moss
Cyril Lemoine did well in the fight for the polka dot jersey. After four uphill sprints, he had scored more points than Jens Voigt while Perrig Quémeneur put on a good show as he went solo over Oxenhope Moor Hill. The Frenchman therefore became the new King of the Mountains. Led mostly by Tinkoff-Saxo, the peloton kept the breakaway under control with a deficit of less than two minutes. The escape came to an end in the ascent to the Holme Moss, where Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) rejoined Kadri at the front. However, Kadri rode him off to take the five points awarded at the top of the only second category climb of the day (km 143.5). Kadri was eventually reeled in with 35km to go while Kittel was no longer part of the main peloton.
Rolland warms up, Nibali finishes off
Several teams (Sky, Astana, Tinkoff…) controlled the bunch in order to protect their captains and Cannondale did so as well to prepare a sprint victory for Peter Sagan. Two riders managed to go away in the Oughtibridge Hill with 18km to go: Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R-La Mondiale). Rolland insisted more than his compatriot and got reined in 8km before the finishing line. A fight between the three main favorites of the Tour de France turned into the favor of Vincenzo Nibali as he found the way to escape with two kilometers to go after Alberto Contador tested his legs in the Jenkin Road Hill and Chris Froome accelerated at the top of the hill. The Italian champion was brilliant in staying away solo and showing his national colors as he crossed the finishing line.