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Nibali in yellow after late Sheffield surge

ESPN staff
July 6, 2014 « Neymar makes teary exit from World Cup | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Vincenzo Nibali wins the second stage of the Tour de France © Getty Images
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Vincenzo Nibali launched a late attack to take possession of the yellow jersey with victory in the Tour de France's second stage from York to Sheffield.

Astana rider Nibali took advantage of hesitation among a leading group that included defending champion Chris Froome and two-time winner Alberto Contador to surge ahead with just under 2km to go.

Nibali - last year's Giro d'Italia winner - clung on to triumph in 5:08'36 after 201km of punishing roads and hill climbs. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma - Quick Step finished second and third respectively in the bunch two seconds back from Nibali.

The Peloton ride up Haworth High Street during stage two of the Tour de France © Getty Images
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Froome lost the lead having been in front over the final hill but still came home safely and trails Nibali by two seconds in the general classification, along with Greg van Avermaet and Michael Albasini.

It was Nibali's second win of the season, following his Italian national championship triumph, and he claims the race leader's jersey from stage one winner Marcel Kittel of Giant-Shimano, after he endured a difficult day and finished 20 minutes adrift.

"It was really tough racing and the crowds were just incredible. I had goose bumps going up Holme Moss," said Froome, who was cheered on by 60,000 fans on the longest and toughest of the stage's nine ascents. They were joined by hundreds of thousands more in lining the Yorkshire roads over the rest of the stage.

"For me it was all about staying out of trouble and avoiding any major issues or big splits."

Britain's Mark Cavendish had pulled out of the race before the start of stage two after dislocating his shoulder in a crash on the opening day.

As they headed past Hillsborough into Sheffield, Pierre Rolland made his move to leave the peloton trailing.

Going into the final 10k, Rolland led the chasing pack by eight seconds with the Cannondale team accelerating fiercely to get Peter Sagan into contention.

Rolland was hauled back in as the pack passed Sheffield city centre, though, with Sagan and Cannondale keeping pace with the leaders.

Defending champion Chris Froome then attacked up the summit to try and strike a psychological advantage over general classification rivals Alberto Contador and Nibali, but Sagan hit the front with 4k to go.

A game of cat and mouse began to play out with the stage looking like it was heading for a sprint finish, but with 1.8k left, Nibali burst out in front as the clear leader.

He surged ahead with a canny breakaway as Froome and co frantically tried to close the gap, however, they did not have enough to catch the Italian.

Stage two result:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 5hrs 8mins 36secs
2. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) +2secs
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step)
4. Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
5. Tony Gallopin (Lotto)
6. Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEdge)
7. Andrew Talansky (Garmin)
8. Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
9. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)
10. Romain Bardet (AG2R)

General classification:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 9hrs 52mins 43secs
2. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) + 0.02
3. Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
4. Michal Albasini (Orica GreenEdge)
5. Chris Froome (Team Sky)
6. Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
7. Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol)
8. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
9. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)

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