Czech champion Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) soloed to victory and into the leader’s jersey on stage two of the Tour of Britain in Lancashire.
Vakoc was one of eight riders in a break which formed late in the stage, and after striking out solo as a 50-strong chasing group closed in, the 23-year-old soloed to victory in Colne.
His advantage at the finish line had been cut to seven seconds by second-placed Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), with former winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) a further two seconds back.
And the result ensures Vakoc will take over the leader’s jersey from Elia Viviani (Team Sky) who finished in the third group on the road on the day.
Several riders tried to escape the clutches of the peloton on the Classics-like Lancashire course, and it was Ian Bibby (NFTO) who led the way over the Nick’o’Pendle climb.
When the break did go, however, it was composed of just two men – Pete Williams (One Pro Cycling), for the second day running, and Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin), with Williams soon forging on alone.
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) bridged across to his fellow Brit, with Sky martialling the peloton behind them and the presence of the British time trial champion proved sufficient for the bunch to up the ante and close the gap.
The efforts of bridging took their toll too, with Dowsett dropping back after the gap had been closed down to just 1’23” with 65km still remaining.
Williams was swallowed up as the peloton hit Bleara Moor, too, and the climb blew the peloton to pieces as Bibby led the way over the top again.
The front group came together off the front of those, with eight riders working together to open the gap again.
Vakoc, Wout Poels (Team Sky), Alex Peters (Great Britain), Swiss champion Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal), Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Garmin), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) and Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) completed the break.
Tinkoff-Saxo planted riders on the front of the second group, while race leader Elia Viviani (Team Sky) found himself well back in the third group.
Kennaugh’s group – which Tinkoff-Saxo and LottoNL-Jumbo also planted riders on the front of – closed the gap to the front men, however, prompting Vakoc to go solo – the new pace dropping Peters and Ligthart on the heavy roads.
That 50-strong move soon caught the other remaining breakaway riders too, leaving just Vakoc up the road with a 40-second advantage and 10km remaining.
Stef Clement did a big pull on the front for IAM Cycling and Lotto-Soudal and Tinkoff-Saxo took charge as they headed onto the heavy roads of Nelson and on to Colne.
The lead still stood at 15 seconds under the flamme rouge, though Etixx-QuickStep prepared ther lead-out behind him in case it came together.
On the front of the bunch, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) buried himself too before Stefan Kung (BMC Racing) made an attempt at a counter-attack.
Nothing could bring Vakoc back, however, as he held on to claim another big victory in his short career to date.
Tour of Britain 2015: stage two – result
1) Petr Vakoc (CZE) – Etixx-QuickStep – 4.02.22hrs
2) Juan Jose Lobato (ESP) – Movistar +7”
3) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – MTN-Qhubeka +9”
4) Rasmus Guldhammer (DEN) – Cult Energy – ST
5) Matteo Trentin (ITA) – Etixx-QuickStep
6) Owain Doull (GBR) – Team WIGGINS
7) Jens Debusschere (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
8) Dylan Teuns (BEL) – BMC Racing
9) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar
10) Javier Mejias (ESP) – Team Novo Nordisk
1) Petr Vakoc (CZE) – Etixx-QuickStep – 8.28.41hrs
2) Juan Jose Lobato (ESP) – Movistar +11”
3) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – MTN-Qhubeka +15”
4) Floris Gerts (NED) – BMC Racing +17”
5) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky +18”
6) Dylan van Baarle (NED) – Cannondale-Garmin – ST
7) Owain Doull (GBR) – Team WIGGINS +19”
8) Graham Briggs (GBR) – Condor-JLT – ST
9) Peter Kennaugh (GBR) – Team Sky
10) Rasmus Guldhammer (DEN) – Cult Energy