Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka), snatched victory on stage two of the 2013 Tour of Britain in Kendal to claim the gold jersey of race leader in a dramatic finish.
Thomas Lovkvist (IAM Cycling) launched a solo attack in the final 5km and looked to have done enough to win the stage, but Ciolek and Sam Bennett (AN Post Chain Reaction) attacked off the front to catch him on the uphill finish.
And Ciolek, who finished third in the sprint finish in stage one, and who in March won the hugely prestigious Milan-San Remo ‘Monument’ Classic, proved to be the quicker of the two and claimed victory.
Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins meanwhile remains in contention for the overall win, after overcoming an early fall to finish among a very strung-out peloton.
When the race rolled out of Carlisle, Pete Williams (IG Sigma Sport) tried an early break but was quickly caught, and the pace of the peloton ensured a number of similar breaks came to nothing.
Eventually a seven-man break, which included Sojasun’s Anthony Delaplace, fresh from his solo attack on yesterday’s opening stage, which earned him the combativity award, was able to establish a small lead.
The Frenchman was joined by Mike Northey (Giordana), Jonathan Dibben (GB), Nicola Boem (Bardiani), Sean Downey (AN Post Chain Reaction), Matt Cronshaw (IG Sigma Sport) and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) and the escapees led into the first intermediate sprint.
Madrazo led the escapees through the first intermediate sprint on the wet roads in Aspatria, followed by Boem, Cronshaw and Downey as their lead grew to more than three minutes.
Team Sky led the peloton but a crash brought down several riders with Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Sharp), Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT), Andreas Stauff (MTN Qhubeka) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) all forced to abandon.
Pre-Tour favourite Wiggins was also brought down in the crash but remounted.
The incident caused the peloton to split, prompting those at the front of the bunch to slow the pace as they approached Cockermouth, allowing everyone to regroup.
Further up the road, the seven-man break continued to retain a steady lead with Boem leading them through the intermediate sprint at Dearham, followed by Cronshaw, Dibben and Northey.
Their lead stretched to 3’20” by the time of the third and final sprint of the day into Whitehaven, with Madrazo earning another three-second time bonus and Boem crossing second to ensure he claimed top spot in the sprints classification.
Once again riding on wet roads, the seven escapees retained their lead up the first categorised climb – of the category two Fang’s Brow – with Downey attacking to the summit to claim maximum points.
Sky continued to lead the peloton further back, with Bernhard Eisel again setting the pace at the front and Wiggins showing no ill-effects after his earlier crash.
Boem, after his efforts in the sprints, was the first of the escapees to be dropped as they headed towards the category one ascent of Honister Pass.
Madrazo led over the summit, surrounded by sizable crowds despite the weather, to collect ten points with Northey, Delaplace, Downey and Dibben following shortly behind.
Cronshaw was forced to dig deep to stay in contention on the demanding climb, but did well to stay in touch as the six-man group stayed together despite Madrazo falling on the descent.
Behind them Tour de France King of the Mountains Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin, winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Volta a Catalunya, attacked off the front of the bunch, powering up the extremely tough climb to build a lead over the peloton.
The Colombian and the Irishman descended well to close the gap to the leaders, and caught them with 50km to go.
Madrazo’s fall saw him encounter mechanical problems, but he recovered well to go clear with his Movistar team mate and Martin as they climbed Chestnut Hill.
Martin crossed first as he bid to up the pace, and the trio soon found themselves comfortably clear of the escapees but it was not to last.
With Eisel driving the peloton on at an intense pace, the leading riders were gradually picked off before Martin and Quintana were absorbed with 35km remaining.
It prompted Enrique Sanz to attack solo – the third Movistar rider to attack during the stage – and he remained a steady 20”-30” in front through rain-soaked Ambleside and past Lake Windermere.
Sky continued to lead the peloton though, with NetApp-Endura amassing riders just behind them, and Sanz attack was ended with 21km remaining.
Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) was next to go off the front, but again his lead was not allowed to develop to threatening proportions., Neither was that of Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), who also attempted to break clear.
As the attacks and counter-attacks continued – with British champion, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) also having a launching a break – the pace of the peloton continued to improve.
Lovkvist initially appeared to have timed his attack to perfection – causing the peloton to split as they pursued the Swede into the final few kilometres.
Ian Stannard (Sky) managed the pace fantastically to allow the bunch – including his team leader Wiggins – to catch back up.
Lovkvist led under the flame rouge, but Bennett and Ciolek caught him and the latter outpaced the Irishman to claim the gold jersey.
Tour of Britain 2013: stage two – result
1 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 5:01:01
2 Sam Bennett (Irl) An Post-Chain Reaction same time
3 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling +0’6″
4 Simon Yates (GBr) Great Britain same time
5 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
6 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp +0’9″
7 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling same time
8 Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
9 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka
10 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
1) Gerald Ciolek (GER) – MTN-Qhubeka – 11.05.30
2) Simon Yates (GBR) – Great Britain +20″
3) Michal Golas (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – ST
4) Marco Coledan (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox +23″
5) Sego Pardilla (ESP) – MTN-Qhubeka – ST
6) Julien Vermote (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
7) Martin Elmiger (SUI) – IAM Cycling
8) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
9) Scott Thwaites (GBR) – NetApp-Endura +26″
10) Francesco Bongiorno (ITA) – Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox