Roger Hammond surprised even himself by winning stage two to Liverpool on Wednesday but his young Great Britain team mates deserved the glory after some impressive riding in the final miles of the 101 miles stage from Blackpool.
Andy Tennant, Geraint Thomas, Ross Sander, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift helped chase down a late move by Rob Sharman (Recycling.co.uk) and Michael Markov (Denmark) and then out powered the big name Quick Step team before dropping Hammond on Boonen?s wheel 400 metres from the finish.
Quick Step lead into the final left turn but when Boonen overlapped with lead out man Filippo Pozzato, Hammond dived up the inside and powerfully opened a four-bike lead. Boonen quietly eased up, embarrassed to have lost a sprint.
Aart Vierhouten (Skil) was second in the sprint, with Russell Downing (DFL) again edging out Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) for third. Thanks to his consistency in the sprints Downing took the green points jersey.
Australia?s Matt Goss (SouthAustralia.com) is the new race leader after gaining four seconds on stage one winner Martin Pedersen (CSC) in the intermediate sprints.
It was Hammond?s first win since taking stage two of the 2005 Tour of Great Britain in Blackpool. He was very happy to have won and thanked all the young Great Britain riders for their impressive riding.
?Those guys have done a mega performance,? he said.
?We practiced things yesterday and if you watch the television coverage, they were on the front until 700 metres out. They dropped me on Boonen?s wheel at 400 metres to go. I haven?t had a lead out like that for years.?
?Pozzato took over from Geraint Thomas and lead the sprint into the final corner but when Boonen went wide coming out of the corner I went up the inside and got a gap.?
Matt Goss was slightly overawed to be in the leader?s yellow jersey but deserved it after picking up five bonus seconds. Pedersen tried to match him and gained a second but could not stop the 20 year-old Aussie.
?I?m stoked to have the jersey,? he said.
?I thought CSC might let a guy go down the road to take the bonuses with the break but they left a second up for grabs and I took both of them and then won the last bonus sprint close to the finish.?
?This is the biggest stage race I?ve ever lead and we?re going to try and defend the lead as long as we can. Tomorrow stage to Sheffield will be hard, the first part is not too bad but the last 50km are tough and the climbs finish with just 15km to go. If the bunch breaks up it?ll be difficult to pull time back on the descent to Sheffield.?
The 111-mile third stage from Bradford to Sheffield ends with a string of climbs in the last 30 miles. Millstone Edge is only nine miles away and if a small group goes over the top they probably not be caught before the finish.
Watch out for Russell Downing (DFL) who will be racing on home roads.
STAGE TWO RESULTS
1 Hammond, Roger (Great Britain) in 3-54-15
2 Vierhouten, Aart (Skil-Shimano)
3 Downing, Russell (DFL-Cycling News-Litespeed)
4 Cavendish, Mark (T-Mobile)
5 Vanlandschoot, James (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago)
6 Chicchi, Francesco (QuickStep-Innergetic)
7 Rasmussen, Alex (Denmark)
8 Degano, Enrico (Barloworld)
9 Weissinger, Rene (Skil-Shimano)
10 Hunt, Jeremy (Unibet.com) all same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1 Goss, Mathew (South Australia.com-AIS) in 7-57-35
2 Pedersen, Martin (CSC) at 0-02
3 Pasamontes, Luis (Unibet.com) at 0-08
4 Hammond, Roger (Great Britain) at 2-44
5 Vierhouten, Aart (Skil-Shimano) at 2-48
6 Van Summeren, Johan (Davitamon Lotto) at same time
7 Downing, Russell (DFL-Cycling News-Litespeed) at 2-50
8 Roesems, Bert (Davitamon Lotto) at same time
9 Keisse, Iljo (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport) at 2-52
10 Chicchi, Francesco (QuickStep-Innergetic) at 2-54
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