Dutchman Kai Reus (Rabobank) is the new leader of the Tour of Britain after winning stage two to Newcastle Gateshead with a powerful late attack from a breakaway.
The former Junior world champion suffered life-threatening head injuries in a training crash in 2007. He was in a coma for two weeks but has since overcome huge problems to make a comeback. His win at the Tour of Britain was his first since his accident and both he and directeur sportif Erik Dekker were close to tears after he crossed the line.
Reus jumped across to the break that formed after a high-speed first hour of attacks. He went clear over the top of the Langley climb with Tanel Kangert (Ag2r) and Thomas De Gendt (Vlaanderen). Garmin lead the chase on the loop north of Newcastle but when they were close to catching the trio, they eased up. Reus knew he had a chance and so attacked alone in the final 15km. With help from a strong tailwind, he blasted to the finish. He squandered several seconds celebrating but won by nine seconds and took the race lead.
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Malcolm Elliott Best Brit in sprint
Alexander Kristoff (Joker-Bianchi) won the bunch sprint, beating former team-mate and fellow Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia). Malcolm Elliott (CandiTV) was the best British finisher, taking seventh in the hectic sprint: not bad for 48 and more than 20 years of racing at the highest level.
Yet again the British riders missed out but it was not for trying. There were lots of attacks early but they were all pulled back. Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings (Barloworld) went on the attack on the second climb after 42km. They split the bunch but when they were caught the decisive move with Reus went away.
Thanks to winning alone, Reus leads stage one winner CJ Sutton (Garmin) by 16 seconds. Kristoff is third at 19 seconds, with Russell Downing (CandiTV) best Brit in sixth place at 25 seconds.
“When the gap went up and we got two minutes again, I knew I was riding for the win and went on the attack,” Reus said.
“It was a really hard last 10km. I had a tailwind but I’m tired now. This is my first victory for two years but that’s a long story and now it’s in the past.”
“Now we’ll see if I can defend the jersey. My legs are tired and stages six and seven are really tough. We’ll see what happens.”
Monday’s 153km third stage is from Peebles to Gretna Green. Perhaps a good place for another breakaway to stay away.
Tour of Britain 2009: Stage two, Darlington-Newcastle Gateshead, 153km
1. Kai Reus (Netherlands) Rabobank
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi at nine secs
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia
4. Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo
5. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Katyusha
6. Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld
7. Malcolm Elliott (Gbr) Candi-TV
8. Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD
9. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin
10. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Vlaanderen all same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Kai Reus (Netherlands) Rabobank
2. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin at 16sec
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker-Bianchi at 19secs
4. Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld at 20secs
5. Edvald Boassen Hagen (Nor) Columbia at 21secs
6. Russell Downing (Gbr) Candi-TV at 25 seconds
7. Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo at 26
8. Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Vlaanderen
9. Malcolm Elliott (Gbr) Candi-TV
10. Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacalsoleil all same time.
Bradley Wiggins leads the bunch
Kai Reus is pleased with his new yellow jersey