Nibali Wins Stage 2 of Tour de France
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has won Stage 2 of the Tour de France. The Shark of the Strait jumped away from the lead group on the day’s last climb to win the hilly, 201-km ride from York to Sheffield, England in 5:08:36. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) outsprinted Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) for second at 0:02. Nibali has taken the maillot jaune from Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), who lost seven minutes after being dropped on one of the stage’s nine categorized climbs.
The peloton rolled out of York short one rider. That rider was Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who suffered a dislocated shoulder in a Stage 1 crash that he admitted having caused. The break of the day formed almost immediately, with Matthew Busche (Trek), Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura), Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), and Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol) joining forces. The peloton kept the fugitives on a short leash, one that never exceeded four minutes in length.
Giant-Shimano, Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Cannondale, Astana, Sky, and Garmin-Sharp took turns pacing the bunch. Despite a number of crashes, the peloton ground away at the break’s advantage. With 70 km left, less than a minute separated bunch and break.
On the Category 2 Cote de Holme Moss, Kadri dropped his companions. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) attempted to bridge up from the peloton. He succeeded, but Kadri dropped him. With 50 km to go, the Frenchman led the remnants of the break by 1:15.
Cannondale took over at the front. The Italian squad ramped up the pace, and Kadri’s advantage dissipated. The peloton caught him on the Category 3 Côte de Midhopestones.
Garmin-Sharp took command. The American squad’s pacemaking pared the peloton down to 20 riders with 30 km remaining. Among them were Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nicolas Roche (both from Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Rui Costa and Chris Horner (both from Lampre-Merida), Chris Froome (Sky), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Fabian Cancellara (Trek).
With 20 km left, Rolland and Peraud got clear of the lead group on an uncategorized climb. Rolland dropped Peraud, and the peloton, led by Sky, Cannondale, and BMC, got busy. With 10 km left, Rolland’s lead was 0:14, and two km later, the Frenchman was reeled in.
On the day’s last climb, the Category 4 Cote de Jenkin Road, Contador and Froome put in attacks to test their companions. Nibali’s teammate Jakob Fuglsang attacked on the descent, and Froome and Sagan marked the move. After a number of other attacks by the Dane, Nibali put his cards on the table, and no one could get to grips with him. As the Italian crossed the finish line, he pointed to the flag on his jersey that symbolized his national road race championship.
Nibali’s win was not planned, but he saw the opportunity and took it in the fluid circumstances of the final km. “The finish was a bit of an improvisation – Jakob tried a few attacks with four km to go, and when I saw the opportunity at 1500m I took my chance.
“It’s especially great to win on the anniversary of our namesake city Astana – it’s a national holiday in Kazakhstan today, and they also celebrate 100 years of bike racing.”
In the overall, Nibali leads Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:02. Stage 3 will be the last English stage of this year’s Tour, with the peloton riding a rolling, 155-km stage from Cambridge to London. A sprinter should win the day’s honors. Who will do it? Kittel? Sagan? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!