2013 Giro d'Italia winner and Italian national champion Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 2 of the Tour de France on Sunday and moved into the Yellow Jersey. His place atop Sunday's podium was his first triumph in the Tour de France.
Stage 2 had the potential to be a real separator with a mini climbing stage featuring numerous smaller-classification climbs and it lived up to the billing. Slowly but surely the field was split, leaving some big time gaps when the route was finished.
Especially in the run up to the finishing town of Sheffield, the field was split, giving the Yellow Jersey contenders a chance to gain time on the peloton and make some early statements in a GC battle that will continue all the way to Paris.
With the peloton left behind, including Yellow Jersey wearer Marcel Kittel, Nibali made an aggressive move on the other contenders with a couple of kilometers to go. The rest of the riders hesitated in reacting to the move, giving Nibali the gap he needed to hold off the pursuers and cross the line first, two seconds ahead of Greg van Avermaet of Belgium and BMC Racing Team.
It was the final of many late attacks in the stage that led to American Tejay van Garderen calling the day "just brutal." Nothing like an early test to spice up the Tour de France.
American riders Andrew Talansky (seventh) and van Garderen (ninth) were also in the chase pack that finished two seconds behind Nibali along with past champions Alberto Contador and 2013 winner Chris Froome. Kittel finished nearly 20 minutes off the pace, bringing his very short stint in the Yellow to an end.
Photo of the day
The peloton attacks one of the climbs of Stage 2 through Haworth, England with the tight roads made even tighter by the throngs of fans lining the course. It's pretty awesome to see the massive support in England just as we will see in the French towns and cities.
The Tour spends one final day in England on Monday with the third stage that begins in Cambridge and ends in London. It shouldn't be the longest or more taxing stages of the tour at just 155 kilometers and not much in the way of climbs. You never know, but it seems as though Nibali should have little issue holding onto his yellow for a while.
It should be a great sprint finish on the streets of London; it's too bad English star Mark Cavendish won't be on hand to delight the fans after he was ruled out of the Tour on Sunday.