Sheffield, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Vincenzo Nibali, known as the “Shark of the Strait”, pulled away from the main pack with two kilometers remaining to rule Stage 2 of the Tour de France Sunday.
Nibali finished the 201-kilometer trip from York to Sheffield in five hours, eight minutes and 36 seconds to capture his first stage win in cycling’s most prestigious race.
With the win, Nibali now wears the coveted leader’s yellow jersey with a two-second lead over Peter Sagan, who lost the stage but took the lead in the points classification, which is his main goal this year.
“This is wonderful victory! It pays me off for all the sacrifices,” said Nibali. “The beginning of the season has been a difficult one for me but I’ve trained hard with my teammates for the Tour de France and my confidence is now boosted by the two victories I just got, at the Italian championship and here today.”
“But I want to keep working with serenity. My main goal is to get a good result at the end of the Tour de France. I don’t want to lose my head,” he added.
Defending champion Chris Froome and former winner Alberto Contador finished among the main pack, just two seconds behind Nibali. They also sit two seconds off the overall leader.
Nibali battled a group of more than 20 riders in the lead pack that also included Froome, Contador and Sagan before breaking free in the last two kilometers.
“I found the right time to escape,” Nibali said. “They watched each other behind but I was scared to get caught because of the head wind. For sure the Tour de France doesn’t finish here.”
Earlier, British sprinter Mark Cavendish, a 25-time Tour de France stage winner, pulled out of the race with a shoulder injury he sustained late in Stage 1.
The tour resumes Monday with Stage 3 — a 155-kilometer flat jaunt from Cambridge to London. It will mark the final day in England, as the tour heads to France Tuesday.