Tour of Britain 2016: Julien Vermote beats Steve Cummings to claim race lead on stage two

Brit narrowly denied stage victory in the Lake District as GC is shaken up on The Struggle

Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) won stage two of the Tour of Britain in the Lake District to claim the race lead, beating Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) in a two-up sprint on Beasts Bank in Kendal.

Vermote was the last surviving member of the large day’s break, which Cummings had caught after a counter-attack on The Struggle climb, and had enough to beat the Brit to claim his second stage win in the race.

The Belgian, a winner in Brighton in 2014, clung resolutely to Cummings’ wheel after the two distanced what remained of the front group with 10km remaining.

And despite his exertions in the break, he had enough to beat the Brit and claim the stage win, on a day which saw several of the GC contenders show themselves when the peloton broke up on The Struggle.

Julien Vermote is the new leader of the 2016 Tour of Britain after the Belgian won stage two in Kendal (pic: Sirotti)

Earlier, stage one winner, and therefore race leader, Andre Greipel decided the best way to defend his yellow jersey was on the front, joining a 15-strong break.

Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) was another WorldTour rider to help power the move, with Giant-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo and Trek-Segafredo all boasting two riders apiece.

Loic Vliegen (BMC Racing), Vermote, Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac) and Johann van Zyl (Dimension Data) also got involved, alongside Hector Saez (Caja Rural), Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Conor Dunne (JLT-Condor).

Having missed the move, Movistar sent Jorge Arcas and Giovanni Visconti up the road in pursuit but Visconti punctured to put paid to that tactic.

Instead the Spanish team and ONE Pro Cycling set the pace in the bunch, with the gap slowly coming down from its four-and-a-half-minute peak.

Greipel extended his overall lead by collecting three bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint – Dunne took two, and Roche one – and the German did so again at the second sprint, again beating Dunne.

As the climbing started, the front group fractured however – Roche cresting Whinlatter Pass first, and Meurisse winning the sprint to the top of Chestnut Hill.

Adrien Costa (Etixx-QuickStep) suffered a nasty-looking crash as the peloton headed towards Keswick with 60km to go, but the pace continued to be high with several of the teams not represented in the break happy to power the bunch.

Up the road, the front group came back together – missing only Mullen – but the gap was slowly nudging down towards the one-minute mark.

When the pace eased off, however, the continued co-operation by the 14 up the road saw the lead go back out to 1’45” as Greipel once again led Dunne through the final intermediate sprint.

ONE Pro’s Karol Domagalski and British champion Adam Blythe (Great Britain) had seen enough, and set off in pursuit of the leading group.

The Struggle put paid to the breakaway, however – the race heating up in contrast to the diminishing weather conditions in the Lake District.

The steep climb and heavy roads saw some in the breakaway grind to a halt, as the peloton – with Mark Cavendish having put in a big shift for Dimension Data – picked them off one-by-one.

Just five remained up the road – Roche, Vermote, Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Meurisse and Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) – as Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) led a counter-attack across.

The peloton also split up, though Cavendish still found time to berate a roadside fan after his stint setting the pace for Dimension Data ended.

Dennis had almost bridged across to the five leaders when the second part of the climb began to bite, but Maurisse and Roche accelerated towards the summit for KOM points and the break fractured further.

Maurisse’s efforts were enough to ensure he’d take on the KOM jersey – level on points with Roche, but first across The Struggle – before the group, now with Dennis for company, came back together.

Steve Cummings finished second, narrowly denied after another well-timed attack (pic: Sirotti)

A chase group was just shy of 30 seconds back, with Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Cummings and Ben Swift (Team Sky) all there.

Cummings and Martin tried to bridge across, before Gallopin, Dumoulin and Swift tried to join their counter-attack, but the Tour de France stage-winning Brit was off on his own as he joined the back of the front group.

After a moment to catch his breath, a Cummings attack was almost inevitable and it duly arrived with 12.3km to go though Dennis was wise to it.

When Vermote attacked, however, Cummings set off again and the two had a small gap heading into the final 10km.

That continued to grow, with it fast becoming clear the Dimension Data had timed his attack to perfection again – but this time he had Vermote to shake off, and the Etixx-QuickStep man clung to the Brit’s tail.

Ultimately, he could not be shaken off and attacked on the final climb to claim victory and the race lead, with Cummings six seconds back in second place overall.

Tour of Britain 2016: stage two – result

1) Julien Vermote (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep – 5.40.50hrs
2) Steve Cummings (GBR) – Dimension Data +2”
3) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep +58”
4) Xandro Meurisse (BEL) – Wanty Groupe-Gobert – ST
5) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
6) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
7) Guillaume Martin (FRA) – Wanty-Groupe Gobert +1.02
8) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin
9) Dylan van Baarle (NED) – Cannondale-Drapac
10) Jacopo Mosca (ITA) – Trek-Segafredo +1.06

General classification

1) Julien Vermote (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep – 9.33.20hrs
2) Steve Cummings (GBR) – Dimension Data +6”
3) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep +1.04
4) Xandro Meurisse (BEL) – Wanty Groupe-Gobert +1.08
5) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
6) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
7) Dylan van Baarle (NED) – Cannondale-Drapac +1.12
8) Guillaume Martin (FRA) – Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin
10) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky +1.16


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