Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to victory on stage two of the Tour de France and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) claimed the yellow jersey as crosswinds caused chaos on the Dutch coast.
Mark Cavendish looked favourite to win the sprint, with Etixx-QuickStep boasting strength in numbers, but the Manxman could not hold out to the line after leading it out.
Greipel, instead, edged him and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) out, with Cancellara snatching third on the line to claim the overall lead thanks to bonus seconds.
Previous leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) was not the only rider caught out in the crosswinds, either, with Alberto Contador and Chris Froome making big gains on their GC rivals.
Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali were all among those caught out on a chaotic first road stage of this year’s race.
A four-man break, composed of Perrig Quemeneur (Team Europcar), Stef Clement (IAM Cycling), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) bolted clear from the flag to form the day’s break.
They were allowed to go, and the race quickly settled down – but it proved to be the calm before the storm, quite literally, with the turning of the weather prompting a turning of the screw.
Alberto Contador barked instructions to his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates as the winds whipped up, and their pace-setting fractured the peloton.
Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing), Valverde and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) were among the riders caught out, while the gap to the break tumbled.
The pace did ease, and the race came back together before the intermediate sprint – where all the main sprinters claimed points from the peloton.
The day’s drama quickly resumed, however, with a number of crashes in the peloton – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo), twice, taking tumbles.
With the pace hot on the front, splits soon appeared again with Etixx-QuickStep and Tinkoff-Saxo all riding towards the front.
Dennis, Valverde, Quintana, Degenkolb, Nibali, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) were all among those caught out.
Alex Dowsett was called back by the Movistar duo to lead the chase, while Nibali also did a great deal of work until he punctured just as the momentum was gaining.
Etixx-QuickStep did the lion’s share of the work in the front group, meanwhile, knowing they were fighting now for both the stage win and the yellow jersey.
Slovakian champion Sagan had a slight scare with 15km remaining when he punctured – his strength to chase back on was hugely impressive though.
Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Martin did much of the pace-setting, meanwhile, and BMC Racing, now racing for Tejay van Garderen and not Dennis, were happy to lend firepower too.
As they hit the Zeeland islands, Cavendish looked perfectly placed to sprint to victory as Etixx-QuickStep led the sprint out.
The Manx Missile burst off Mark Renshaw’s wheel and looked to have a gap but Greipel found an extra turn of pace to claim victory, with Sagan second.
Cavendish sat up before the line, too, allowing Cancellara to snatch third and deny Etixx-QuickStep’s Tony Martin the yellow jersey too on a day of double disappointment for the team.
Tour de France 2015: stage two – result
1) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal – 3.29.03hrs
2) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff-Saxo – ST
3) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek Factory Racing
4) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Etixx-QuickStep
5) Daniel Oss (ITA) – BMC Racing
6) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing
7) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
8) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin
9) Tony Martin (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep
10) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin
1) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – Trek Factory Racing – 3.44.01hrs
2) Tony Martin (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep +3”
3) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin +6”
4) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff-Saxo +33”
5) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +35”
6) Daniel Oss (ITA) – BMC Racing +42”
7) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
8) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +44”
9) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing +48”
10) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – ST