Andre Greipel won the second stage of the Tour de France on Sunday as Fabian Cancellara took the leader’s yellow jersey.
Greipel edged out Peter Sagan in the sprint finish with Cancellara taking third and the four-second time bonus that afforded him was enough to take the yellow jersey off Australia’s Rohan Dennis.
But the big news of the day was Chris Froome and Alberto Contador putting almost a minute and a half into overall rivals Nairo Quintana and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali at the end of the 166km run from Utrecht to Zeeland.
Both 2014 Giro d’Italia winner Quintana and the man he succeeded in that event, Nibali, were caught out in the final 50km by a succession of crashes as the speed in the peloton increased and crosswinds coupled with driving rain caused splits in the bunch.
Both Quintana’s Movistar team and the Astana outfit of Nibali chased hard but a 26-man front group was pushed on by Etixx-Quick Step, trying to set up sprinter Mark Cavendish for the stage win.
Cavendish launched his bid for a 26th Tour stage win with 200 metres left but faded to fourth as Greipel edged out Sagan by a fraction of a wheel length.
Behind, Cancellara just beat Cavendish for third and the accompanying time bonus was enough for him to overhaul Tony Martin, who finished ninth, for the race lead.
Dennis was back in the Quintana-Nibali group and his hopes of holding onto yellow had long gone.
Cancellara now leads Martin by 3sec with Tom Dumoulin third at 6sec and Sagan fourth at 33sec. – Agence France-Presse