Written off in many quarters, his GC challenge considered a side story to the expected drama of Froome vs. Contador, Vincenzo Nibali took a sizeable bight from the reputations of his critics on stage two.
Flashes of form proved that The Shark was not lacking form in the same way as riders like Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), but a perceived lack of consistency had caused concern among his supporters.
The Astana man looks to have geared his preparations perfectly, however – winning the Italian national road race a week before the Grand Départ of the Tour de France and carrying his form into the second stage.
Nibali showed the benefits of Astana’s strong line-up – Jakob Fuglsang having been the first to attack, before the Italian delivered a perfectly judged attack to take the stage.
It was reminiscent of their cat-and-mouse attacks at Paris-Nice, and this time resulted in huge success. We speculated at the time what impact it might have at the Tour – and it has proved a winning formula already.
Whether Nibali carries the yellow jersey into the mountain stages, or indeed wants to, with the cobbled stage five better suited to the likes of Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) instead, remains to be seen.
But having struck a telling early blow, Nibali has at least proved he should not be written off just yet.