Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took victory on one of the few sprint days at the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné, out-pacing Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and stage one winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) to the line.
Race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) came down hard in a crash with 1.3km remaining on the stage, but was able to get up and ride in to the finish by himself. The Pole lost his race lead however after time bonuses on stage one and today move South African Impey into the overall lead by two seconds over Kwiatkowski.
With a small group of sprinters taking part in this year's Dauphiné, the final sprint saw Classics man Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) try his hand with an early effort, but he quickly saw himself overtaken by Ackermann and Boasson Hagen towards the line, with Impey making a later move for third place.
German Ackermann was able to hold his speed though, and Norwegian Boasson Hagen could do nothing to stop him from riding to victory over the line in Belleville en Beaujolais.
How it happened
Ahead of Wednesday's team time trial and four difficult days in the mountains, the riders faced a slightly more straightforward day on stage two of the race, albeit with four classified climbs en route to the finish.
The last of those would be crested with around 30km to go, meaning it could be a rare day for the sprinters at the Dauphiné.
A brave quartet of riders still went up the road early in the day though, with Nikita Stalnov (Astana), Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) forming the day's main breakaway with a maximum gap of 6-40.
The peloton seemed content to let the four stay away for most of the day and fight it out over the climbs for KoM points, with the gap gradually decreasing as the race approached the closing 50km.
One of the day's main favourites Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept) was the biggest casualty of the day's climbs, getting dropped over the summit of the final ascent with 30km to go and eventually dropping to 1-30 behind the leading group.
The break however, continued on, and the trio of Périchon, Duchesne and Stalnov held just 25 seconds with 15km to go.
The was quickly swallowed up, and with 9km to go Stalnov bravely pushed on alone to try and hold out for victory.
With Mitchelton-Scott and Bora working hard on the front of the peloton to set up a sprint, the Astana man was in for a difficult time if he was going to make it stick, but held out until 1km to go before being retrieved by the bunch.
It was then down to a bunch sprint, with Ackermann the fastest of them all to take victory. With Kwiatkowski out of contention after taking a tumble with 1.3km to go, Impey was able to sprint in for third place and take four bonus seconds to move into the overall lead.
Wednesday's stage three will the riders take on a 35km team time trial from Pont-de-Vaux to Louhans-Châteaurenaud.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2018, stage two: Montbrison - Belleville en Beaujolais (180.5km)
1 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-19-57
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
3 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
4 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8 Patrick Bevin (NZl) BMC Racing Team
9 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
10 Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic, all same time
General classification after stage two
1 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott, in 8-51-46
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at 2s
3 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky, at 5s
4 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 9s
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 10s
6 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 11s
7 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team Sky
8 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 13s
9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data, at 14s
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team, at 17s
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