Matteo Pelucchi sprung a surprise result on the first road stage of Tirenno-Adriatico, outsprinting Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) and in-form German champion Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) to win the stage.
After a chaotic final few kilometres, which saw Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) crash out and overall leader Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) stuck in the wheels, Pelucchi came around Greipel to win by a bike length.
Cavendish remained in the overall lead having finished in the bunch, but it was fellow Brit Alex Dowsett (Movistar) who shone on the stage, having attacked from the break to stay clear until the final seven kilometres.
British time trial champion Dowsett was one of the five riders to form the day’s break early in the stage.
The Essex-born rider was joined by Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), Davide Malacarne (Team Europcar), David de la Cruz (Team NetApp-Endura) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and they soon built up a lead of more than five minutes.
It made Dowsett, whose Movistar team finished third in the team time trial, the virtual leader on the road.
Further back, the sprint teams took up the chase with Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano all bringing riders to the front.
Marco Canola swept up the climbing points on offer to take an early lead in the classification as the break maintained their steady advantage up the road.
A puncture for Malacarne, and an upping of the pace in the bunch from the likes of Giant-Shimano saw the lead fall steadily however, prompting Dowsett to launch his lone attack with just over 30 kilometres to go.
Dowsett switched to time trial mode, putting a significant gap into the his former breakaway companions, but with the sprint teams leading the bunch his gap to the peloton fell steadily.
After the remainder of the initial escapees were swept up with 15 kilometres remaining, Dowsett held a 57-second lead.
Back in the bunch, however, with sprint teams forming across the road, the pace told and Dowsett’s lead began to tumble as the road kicked up slightly.
The frantic pace in the bunch led to a big crash, with several Lotto-Belisol and Team Sky riders brought down, alongside riders from Astana and Team NetApp-Endura, crashing heavily into a ditch.
It did little to slow the chase however, and Dowsett’s lead had dropped to just ten seconds as they hit the final ten kilometres.
Tinkoff-Saxo led the chase and the Brit’s day in the sun was finally brought to an end with just less than seven kilometres remaining.
With several teams looking to form at the front of the bunch however, a big crash at the back brought down pre-stage favourite Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).
Lampre-Merida came to the front inside the final two kilometres, with FDJ.fr lining up just behind on the straight-line finish.
The French team led under the one kilometre to go flag but a late attack by Ag2r-La Mondiale disrupted the sprinters.
With Mark Cavendish caught in the wheels, the reduced Lotto-Belisol line-up set Greipel up as Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Demare attacked early.
With Greipel at full gas appearing favourite, however, Pelucchi came off his wheel to pass him on the line and earn a huge win for the IAM Cycling team.
Further back, Irishman Sam Bennett (Team NetApp-Endura) put in another strong ride to finish fourth, but the day belonged to Pelucchi and his IAM Cycling team-mates.
Tirreno-Adriatico: stage two – result
1) Matteo Pelucchi (ITA) – IAM Cycling – 3.56.12hrs
2) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ.fr – ST
3) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Belisol
4) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Team NetApp-Endura
5) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Cannondale
6) Davide Appolonio (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Filippo Fortin (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
8) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
9) Tony Hurel (FRA) – Team Europcar
10) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – MTN-Qhubeka
General classification (provisional)
1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep