Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step) took a sensational victory and the overall lead on stage two of the Vuelta a España, soloing away off the front with just under a kilometre to go.
The Belgian made the attack from a small front group which had broken away in crosswinds with just over 2km to go, with Quick-Step the instigators in pulling the peloton apart.
With everyone all together and the pace ramped up on the way in towards the finish in Guisson, Quick-Step had clearly planned to make the strong winds count as the peloton took a left turn on a roundabout with 2.5km to go.
From there Julian Alaphilippe, Matteo Trentin and Lampaert pushed things on with splits instantly happening behind.
A number of riders were able to stick to them as they powered away, with GC riders just making sure the gap didn’t grow to big in the group behind.
But the Belgian team were able to make their numbers count in the front group, and Lampaert was able to attack with Trentin blocking behind.
Daniel Oss (BMC) took up the chase on the front to try and close him down, but wasn’t able to do enough as the 26-year-old Lampaert crossed the line just a metre or so ahead of the sprint finishers behind.
Trentin was able to take second to make it a Quick-Step one-two, while Britain’s Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) beat Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates) to the line to take third place.
Most of the GC hopefuls including Chris Froome (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) all finished safely in a bunch eight seconds back.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) were able to make a small gain on their rivals, with Nibali able to make it in to the front group of finishers and Chaves finishing five seconds back on the winner.
Race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC) was caught out slightly and finished 13 seconds back along with Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), conceding the lead and red jersey to Lampaert.
There was very little action through most of the day, with no breakaway getting up the road until Quick-Step attacked late on.
The bunch was nervous on the roads through the south of France through much of the day, with several crashes taking place. Overall hopeful Nibali lost a key domestique in one of those crashes, with Javier Moreno forced to abandon.
The Vuelta will continue with stage three into Andorra on Monday, and the first GC test with a climbing day on the 158.5km route from Prades Conflent Canigo to Andorra la Vella
Vuelta a España 2017, stage two: Nîmes – Gruisson (203.4km)
1 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, in 4-36-13
2 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
3 Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
4 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5 Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6 Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
8 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
9 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, all same time
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 5s
General classification after stage two
1 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, in 4-52-07
2 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors, at 1s
3 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team, at 3s
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 17s
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, all same time
7 Julain Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 18s
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, st
9 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 21s
10 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, st