Hello and welcome to stage 2 of the Tour of Britain 2016. Today's stage is 188.2km between Carlisle and Kendal. It's the Lake District stage, so plenty of climbing on the menu.
6km remaining from 195km
Teams are signing on in Carlisle as we speak ahead of the start at 11am. For now the weather's not bad, but there could be some showers along the way.
A quick update from yesterday: Lotto-Soudal's Andre Greipel leads the GC and points competition. AN Post-Chain Reaction's Jasper Bovenhuis took the intermediate sprints jersey and One Pro Cycling's Peter Williams is leading both the Best British Rider and KoM competitions.
As mentioned today is all about the Lake District. Storm Desmond wreaked havoc here last December and led to a lot of flooding. Todays stage uses some of the roads and bridges rebuilt in the short time since then.
On the cards today: three sprints and three categorised climbs, though this being the Lake District it's up and down all day - there's not a metre of flat as the cycling cliché has it.
Despite a crash on the final corner yesterday, Mark Cavendish is looking relaxed on the start-line today.
The ToB loves a good neutral section and today there's 9km of easy rolling out of Carlisle.
While we wait stage 2's real start, here's a summary of yesterday's stage.
And the flag's dropped. Madison-Genesis and AN-Post launch the first attacks.
It's a turbulent start, but nobody is getting away just yet.
And we've got a small group just of the front. Will it stick?
No, is the answer to that.
We're getting some weather reports in and it's a bit of a pea-souper further south.
Here we a go - a break is forming. Fifteen riders off the front with a good advantage.
And the advantage is already more than a minute. We'll bring you the names as soon as we get them.
The names in the break so far: Van Zyl (DDD) Roche (SKY) Vermote (EQS) Vliegen (BMC) Mullen (CDT) Benito Saez (CJR) Greipel (LTS) Dunne (JLT)
We're getting all the rider in the break now: Meurisse (WGG) Hoekstra & Tusveld (TGA) Leezer & Lindeman (TLJ) Coledan & Mosca (TFS)
We'rte got two Movistar rider trying to bridge across: Arcas and Visconti.
The gap has ballooned out to four minutes now.
Bit of a disaster for our two Movistar men: Visconti punctures and Arcas sits up. back to the peloton for them.
Meanwhile the gap sits at 5:20 between our lead 15 and the peloton.
So a recap on our race situation.
We’ve got a strong group of 15 up the road, including our yellow jersy, Andre Greipel, which has shades of the ambush Nairo Quintana pulled yesterday in the Vuelta stage to Formigal.
Our full break:
Van Zyl (DDD) Roche (SKY) Vermote (EQS) Vliegen (BMC) Mullen (CDT) Benito Saez (CJR) Greipel (LTS) Dunne (JLT) Meurisse (WGG) Hoekstra & Tusveld (TGA) Leezer & Lindeman (TLJ) Coledan & Mosca (TFS)
The race has passed through Penrith and there were great crowds out to support the riders. Soon the front group will pass alongside Ullswater where they'll be able to take on drinks. Then their minds will turn towards the first sprint of the day at Hesket Newmarket.
151km remaining from 195km
The gap has come down slightly to 4:30 as our two parties settle into their positions.
Today's break is packed with WorldTour riders - 12 of the 15 and there's a good spread of team represented too. Movistar felt like they missed out and so are contributing the peloton's work effort right now.
We're hearing the gap has come down to 3:25 with under 145km to go.
The gap has fallen again. It's now around three minutes.
The leaders will soon be getting ready for the first Yodel sprint prime in Hesket Newmarket, which is where Eddie Stobart, the haulage magnate, was born.
the riders have just gone over Pooley Bridge which Storm Desmond washed away late last year.
Andre Greipel's presence in the break is on behalf of his Lotto-Soudal team-mate Tony Gallopin as he explained to Daniel Benson this morning: "We have to see today because it’s never easy to control the bunch with just six guys. We’ll see which teams take the responsibility,” he said.
“When you see the finish, on paper it’s one that’s perfect for Tony. We want to try and keep the bunch together for that but it’s not going to be easy.”
Meanwhile, Dimension Data's Mark Renshaw is here to support Cavendish in the sprints, but he's already looking ahead to the World Championships in Qatar where Australia could have a number of cards to play.
"It’s going to be hard for Australia because we don’t have one big sprinter like Great Britain or Germany. Italy is probably in the same boat so we’ll probably have to go with a couple of options. We have to look to other ways of winning the race other than lining it out against guys like Cavendish and Greipel,” Renshaw told Cyclingnews
“No one in the team has probably raced in Qatar other than me and Heinrich Haussler and I’d like to have my own chance in the race but it really all depends on what happens with the selection. There’s Caleb Ewan, Michael Matthews and myself.”
The leaders are onto some narrow roads now.
Owain Doull, who was third at the race last year and is now back from from Rio with a gold medal in the team pursuit has just had a bike change.
The riders are breezing along with a tailwind at the moment, according to mywindsock.com.
We're just awaiting the details of the first sprint in Hesket Newmarket...
Greipel won the intermediate sprint from Conor Dunne and Nicolas Roche.
Wiggins has taken position at the back of the peloton, his usual spot.
One Pro Cycling and Movistar are keeping the pace on at the front of the peloton. That gap's staying put at around 2:30.
The peloton are just passing through the feed zone.
The next sprint prime will be in Cockermouth with 80km to go.
Daniel Benson also caught up with Adrien Costa, who’s a stagiaire with Etixx-Quick Step. The team is bristling with options, but the 19-year-old who was second at the Tour of Utah and third at the Tour de l’Avenir says he is just here to learn.
“It’s going great. It’s insane and everything is just a step up from what I’m used to,” he said at the start in Carlisle.
“It’s one of the biggest teams in the world so the support is top notch. Yesterday was a bit of an easy stage so today [stage 2] I think I’ll discover what it’s truly like.”
The gap has really come down now. It's under a minute.
Orica-Bike Exchange's Amets Txurraka just drops out of the peloton with a mechanical.
A correction to the time gap: it's still around 2:00. Pesky GPS.
84km remaining from 195km
The gap has dropped to around 1:45 as they approach the second sprint.
The race will soon be arriving in Cockermouth which hosted the start of stage 3 last year.
A recap on the 15-man group: Van Zyl (DDD) Roche (SKY) Vermote (EQS) Vliegen (BMC) Mullen (CDT) Benito Saez (CJR) Greipel (LTS) Dunne (JLT) Meurisse (WGG) Hoekstra & Tusveld (TGA) Leezer & Lindeman (TLJ) Coledan & Mosca (TFS).
1km to the sprint...
It's Dunne and Greipel again... and the German takes it.
That's another useful three second bonus for Greipel as well.
The pressure is on in the peloton as it climbs out of Cockermouth.
The riders will soon be on Whinlatter Pass, which as far as Lake District climbs go is smooth and steady. It's a pillar of the Fred Whitton sportive and there's a centre at the top where you can spy on the local population of ospreys...
Meanwhile the gap has been chipped away again to 1:28.
One Pro Cycling's Kristian House comes to the front of the peloton and keeps the pace high.
The gradient starts to bite in the front group as Lotto-NL-Jumbo's Bert Jan Lindeman presses on.
Gaps are starting to appear in the front group.
Meanwhile back in the peloton, Javier Moreno (Mov) comes to the front and takes over from One Pro Cycling.
Irish champ Nicolas Roche comes to the front of the break.
and there are splits in the break.
Xandro Meurisse (Wanty) split the break there and it looks like four riders have been detached.
Greipel is still in touch
Nicolas Roche (Sky) took the honours at the top of Whinlatter Pass. That's six points for him.
There's been a split in the lead group - four riders have been dropped...
Adrien Costa (Etixx-Quickstep) crashed hard out of the peloton just there.
The front group are on the second climb of the day, the short and steep Chestnut Hill.
We're all back together in the lead group.
58km remaining from 195km
Greipel is climbing well in fourth wheel in the break at the moment.
Roche starts the sprints for the KoM but concedes. Wanty's Meurisse takes top honours on the cat 2 climb.
Back in the peloton Movistar gesticulate at the rest of the peloton for not helping with the chase.
There's some activity at the front of the peloton, trying to take advantage of the lull caused by Movistar's fading chase.
146km remaining from 195km
We're well inside the final 50km and Madison-Genesis' Alexandre Blain has come to the front to help out Bardiani.
46km remaining from 195km
As the break hits a narrow road alongside Thirlmere Water, the gap is static around 1:20.
The rain has started to fall and will probably remain until the finish.
We're 5km from the sprint in Grasmere. Meanwhile Stephen Cummings is putting on his arm-warmers at the back of the peloton.
Meanwhile back in the break, Trek-Segafredo's Marco Coledan is chugging on at the front. And he's having an effect at the gap goes out to more than 90 seconds.
And One Pro's Karol Domagalski and Great Britain Adam Blythe try to make the bridge.
Back at the front Greipel takes the sprint in Grasmere - three out of three sprints and and nine seconds in bonuses for Greipel.
Next up is The Struggle, the first 1 cat. climb of the race. The good news it's the shortest way to the top of Kirkstone Pass. The bad news is it's also the hardest: 4.8km at 8.2 per cent. There some sections that touch 20 per cent as well.
Vliegen (BMC) has punctured out of the front group. Game over for him, probably.
Greipel's been dropped on the The Struggle.
And Cavendish is working on the front of the peloton as they climb the Struggle. What are Di Data cooking up?
The gradient is really starting to take its toll on the front group which is in disarray.
Hoekstra (Giant) is the latest to fall away from the front group.
The gap is down to under a minute.
The race is split right up now. Rohan Dennis and Stephen Cummings are on the march and looking strong.
Roche and Vermote are among the five remaining leaders.
Dennis is now pushing on alone.
Lindeman, Meurisse and Mosca are the other three among the five leaders
The five leaders press on towards the top of the Struggle.
There's a battle brewing between Roche and Mosca for the KoM points.
Dennis has got to make up 27 seconds on the leaders as they hit the tough upper gradients of The Struggle.
Dennis is eating up this climb and is among the leaders' following cars.
Nicolas Roche should have done enough to take the KoM jersey this evening.
So to recap: we've got a group of six leaders Roche, Vermote, Meurisse, Lindeman and Mosca and Dennis.
there's a strong group of eight chasers including Tom Dumoulin, Mark Christian, Ben Swift, Dan Martin, Dylan Van Baarle, Guillaume Martin, Stephen Cummings, and Amael Moinard
Roche is cramping. Looks in trouble.
Dennis piling on the pressure in the front group.
15km remaining from 195km
Looks like the peloton have let the race go and it's two minutes back on the leaders.
And Cummings has just split the chasing group and taken Dumoulin and Dan Martin with him.
they've got about 20 seconds to make up
The race has exploded again and Dan Martin has been dropped from Cummings's group.
And Cummings attacks!
Dennis follows and closes it.
Dan Martin's group has come across, so we've got a 10/11 man group at the front. Cummings is lurking.
10km remaining from 195km
Cummings has gone again and taken Vermote with him. They've got a gap
Cummings and Vermote have 8 seconds.
Now 12 seconds
The chase group are busy looking at each other and the gap is stretching out. 17 seconds now.
Cummings is the key agent in the break at the moment. The Briton is getting around these wet corners better than Vermote.
Cummings got 20m on Vermote and had to sprint back on. the gap is now up to 35 seconds and growing.
4km remaining from 195km
Cummings goes wide on a corner, but no drama.
Vermote has a word with Cummings as he comes past.
Our duo has a 47 second advantage over the chasers.
We're into Kendal and its 500m to the line.
Vermote opens the sprint...
And Vermote takes the win.
An incredible ride from Vermote
There's a sprint for third now and Dan Martin has gone early.
And Martin takes third.
Vermote will take the yellow jersey today after being out front all day.
That was a breathless last hour. Great racing.
Here's confirmation of the top 10 today:
1 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 05:40:50
2 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:02
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:00:58
4 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty Groupe Gobert
5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
6 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
7 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 00:01:02
8 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
9 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:06
Cavendish, who helped launch Cummings on The Struggle, is just coming over the line now.
Here's how the GC looks after stage 2:
1 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 09:33:20
2 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:06
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:04
4 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty Groupe Gobert 00:01:08
5 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
6 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
7 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac 00:01:12
8 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 00:01:16
Cummings may have lost the battle today, but he's in a good position to win the war. However he'll have a tough fight on his hands: Dan Martin is less than a minute behind.
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