Steve Cummings looked set to win stage two of the 2016 Tour of Britain, but fell short on the final climb to the finish line as Julien Vermote won to take the race lead
Vermote was in the day’s original breakaway and proved both strong and tactically astute. When the breakaway was caught, Vermote managed to stay with the new lead group and was the only rider who could follow the attack from Cummings.
Cummings had looked stronger and even dropped Vermote on a couple of occasions, but as the duo hit the final climb to the finish, Vermote attacked and Cummings was unable to do anything about it.
The Etixx rider stayed away to the finish line while his Dimension Data rival was forced to settle for second.
The original, and sizeable breakaway consisted of some well-known names. Stage winner Vermote was joined by race leader André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky), Loic Vliegen (BMC Racing), Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac), Hector Saez (Caja-Rural), Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Conor Dunne (JLT-Condor), Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Jochem Hoekstra & Martijn Tusveld (Giant-Alpecin), Tom Leezer & Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Marco Coledan & Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo).
The large group of 15 riders had a maximum lead of 5-20. The group included a majority of WorldTour riders, which was in contrast to the escape group on stage one.
The breakaway started to split apart on a climb with around 31.5km left to the finish line. At the same time, Mark Cavendish was seen on the front of the peloton playing a support role for his teammate Cummings.
The lead of the reduced breakaway dropped below a minute for the first time since it went away, and yesterday’s winner Greipel was passed on the ascent by the peloton. Greipel had been active in the break, taking bonus seconds and sprint points at every opportunity.
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) went off the front of the peloton on the climb of The Struggle and made his way across to the five remaining leaders near to the summit. Cummings couldn’t match the acceleration and instead measured his effort on the climb.
Dennis drove the group on as riders as Cummings tried to make his way across to the group. Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) went with the burst from Cummings but was dropped before the Dimension Data rider made the junction with the Dennis group.
Cummings rode with the lead group for a short while before he launched his first attack. Dennis was alive to the danger and brought the group back to Cummings.
More and more riders came across and added to the riders in the front group. With 11.5km left to the finish the front group had both numbers and quality.
As the lead duo pushed out their advantage over 30 seconds, and later to almost two minutes, the chasers looked at each other and waited for someone else to take it up.
At this point it was clear that the chase group was riding for third as the chance for victory was a long way up the road.
Stage three runs from Congleton to Tatton Park, Knutsford and covers 182km. With some climbing in the middle but with a relatively flat last quarter, any sprinters able to stay in touch will have a shot at victory.
Tour of Britain 2016, stage two: Carlisle to Kendal, 195km
1. Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep in 5-40-50
2. Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data at 2 secs
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep at 58 secs
4. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal
6. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
9. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep in 9-33-20
2. Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data at 6 secs
3. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep at 1-04
4. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 1-08
5. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 1-08
6. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal at 1-08
7. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac at 1-12
8. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 1-12
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 1-12
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky at 1-16