Vincenzo Nibali attacks to claim second stage and Tour lead
Reuters in Sheffield
Italian Vincenzo Nibali claimed the overall lead on the Tour de France after a late attack earned him victory in the second stage on Sunday.
The Astana rider powered away about two kilometres from the finish and held off the peloton, with Belgian Greg van Avermaet and Pole Michal Kwiatkowski finishing second and third respectively.
The top favourites showed their muscles in the finale, with Alberto Contador and defending champion Chris Froome attacking on the last climb, but Nibali’s move was the smartest.
“It was a fantastic day, I made a good move. It was tough because there was a lot of headwind. The last 1.5km was really long,” said Nibali.
“It will be tough to keep it until Paris but we know it is going to be hard.”
Froome said he was looking to avoid trouble.
“The goal was to be in front to stay out of trouble. It was a hard day but the support was incredible,” he said.
“I am tired but I hope everyone is tired after a day like this.”
Contador said: “It was the opportunity to test our strength.
“The most important thing was to be well placed [in the peloton], there will be a lot more stages to attack.”
Nibali leads pre-stage favourite Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who took fourth place, by two seconds.
Froome and Contador are also two seconds off the pace, in fifth and eighth respectively.
Nibali snatched the yellow jersey from the shoulders of German Marcel Kittel, who had virtually no chance of retaining his lead for the hilly terrain did not suit him.
Kittel fell off his bike early on but did not sustain any injury, according to his Giant Shimano team.