Mark Renshaw (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) sprinted into the yellow jersey on stage two of the Tour of Britain after sealing his first win of the season.
Renshaw was one of a handful of sprinters still in the bunch over the Great Orme, and after a late attack from Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was shut down inside the final 200 metres, the Australian outsprinted Team Sky’s Ben Swift to take the win.
It is Renshaw’s first win in Omega Pharma-Quickstep colours, despite the fact he arrive at the Tour of Britain as Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man.
However, with the Manxman suffering a crash on stage one, Renshaw came to the fore in Llandudno to showcase his own sprinting talents and with Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) not in the front group, takes over the race lead too.
The stage had earlier rolled out of Knowsley Safari Park with a rapid pace being set from the flag, after a long neutralised section.
Only Ian Stannard (Team Sky) did not take to the start line after his crash on stage one, a fractured scaphoid likely to bring a premature end to what has already been an injury-disrupted season.
Several riders tried to escape the clutches of the peloton early on but with the speed high they had little success and the race was still together through the first intermediate sprint.
When a break did form, it was a large one however with all bar a few teams represented in the front group.
Sergio Henao and David Lopez were there for Team Sky while Omega Pharma-Quickstep had Julien Vermote and Michal Golas.
Giant-Shimano also had two riders in the move, despite having Marcel Kittel in the yellow jersey, while Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) and Bram Tankink (Belkin) were among the other big WorldTour engines to make the split.
The group, which numbered 25 in total, was rapidly brought back by the peloton however and the race was again back together at high speed on the approach to North Wales.
The break which was eventually given some freedom by the Team Sky-led bunch was much smaller, with Ian Bibby (Madison-Genesis), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Chris Lawless (Great Britain), Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) and Rob Partridge (Velosure-Giordana) going clear.
King of the Mountains Mark McNally (An Post-Chain Reaction) bridged the gap, but another chaser – Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) – had less success making the junction.
With the bunch satisfied the group was manageable, they were finally given license to build a small lead – which topped out at four minutes and held around the 3’30” mark for much of the stage.
McNally beat Bibby to the first two intermediate climbs, at Glascoed and Ty Gwyn – enough to guarantee another day in the polka dot jersey – and the six continued to work well together.
However, with Team Sky – and Bernie Eisel in particular – working hard on the front of the bunch, the gap was gradually brought back until the race came together inside the final ten kilometres.
It provided the stage for a number of attacks on the Great Orme and the spectacular descent which followed, with Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) one rider to earn a gap.
When he was brought back, Commonwealth Games time trial champion Dowsett accelerated off the front with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) trying to chase him down.
Dowsett stayed in front, riding hard into the final kilometre with Chavanel still not able to bring him back while Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) led the bunch just behind.
The Movistar man did not have the legs to stay out, however, while the peloton momentarily slowed after capturing him.
Swift was first to attack, but Renshaw tailed him with Kwiatkowski also on the Australian’s wheels.
And the Pole played the perfect team-mate’s role, sitting up to allow Renshaw a gap as he opened up a bike length’s advantage over Swift.
It was enough to grant the Australian time to raise both hands in victory on the sea front and will see him ride in the leader’s jersey on stage three, which finishes atop The Tumble in South Wales.
Tour of Britain 2014: stage two – result
1) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 4.38.54hrs
2) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
3) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Team NetApp-Endura
4) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp
5) Rick Zabel (GER) – BMC Racing
6) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
7) Jerome Pineau (FRA) – IAM Cycling
8) Niki Terpstra (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9) Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
10) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) – IAM Cycling
1) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – 6.55.19hrs
2) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky +4”
3) Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF – ST
4) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Team NetApp-Endura +6”
5) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep – ST
6) Alex Dowsett (GBR) – Movistar +7”
7) Richard Handley (GBR) – Rapha Condor JLT
8) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +10”
9) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) – IAM Cycling
10) Rick Zabel (GER) – BMC Racing