Tour de France stage two draws contenders into battle

Tour de France analysis: Yorkshire's parting shot offered up a fight for the yellow jersey

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage two of the 2014 Tour de France

(Image credit: Graham Watson)

It was a Classic disguised as a General Classification battle. Stage two of the 2014 Tour, held on a parcours likened to that of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, drew the main contenders out of the protective shelter of their team-mates and into a head-to-head battle at the front of the race.

Vincenzo Nibali, normally renowned as a doughty climber and demon descender, added another string to his bow by reprising Fabian Cancellara’s attack on the flat run-in to the finish from the previous day. Unlike the Swiss rouleur, the Italian champion had chosen his enemies carefully: Cancellara had picked a fight with the best lead-outs in cycling; Nibali only had a motley assortment of GC rivals and stage hunters, all more or less isolated from any team support, to beat. The moment he got a gap, and the chasers dithered, his success was certain.

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Edward Pickering is a writer and journalist, editor of Pro Cycling and previous deputy editor of Cycle Sport. As well as contributing to Cycling Weekly, he has also written for the likes of the New York Times. His book, The Race Against Time, saw him shortlisted for Best New Writer at the British Sports Book Awards. A self-confessed 'fair weather cyclist', Pickering also enjoys running.