Updated: Monday, 07 July 2014 00:09 | By Agence France-Presse

Nibali takes yellow after winning Tour de France 2nd stage

Vincenzo Nibali rode himself into the yellow jersey after a daring late break to win the second stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Nibali takes yellow after winning Tour de France 2nd stage

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the 201 km second stage of the 101th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between York and Sheffield, northern England, on July 6, 2014 - by Lionel Bonaventure

The Italian champion pointed to the national flag on his Astana team jersey after winning his first Tour stage at the fourth attempt.

The 29-year-old former Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana champion finished two seconds clear of the field at the end of a punishing 201km ride from York to Sheffield in northern England.

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet was second with Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland in third.

Van Avermaet moved up to third in the overall standings with Peter Sagan, who was fourth on this stage and second on Saturday's opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate, moved into second overall.

The Slovak, winner of the green jersey the last two years, had been the favourite to win this stage but was left behind by Nibali's break.

Sprinter Marcel Kittel, who started the day in yellow after winning Saturday's stage, finished almost 20 minutes behind in a group of sprinters.

It was a thrilling finish to an exciting stage that featured nine categorised climbs which eventually made the difference.

The 4.7km long second category Holme Moss climb was the first to split the field 57.5km from the finish.

After that the leaders rolled at breakneck speed and following the next four third and fourth category climbs, there were around 15 riders left to fight out the victory.

Overall contenders Contador and Froome both tried their luck on the short, steep, final Jenkins Road climb before Nibali, one of the overall contenders, used his descending skills to gain a gap on the field.

World champion Rui Costa and Froome gave chase but neither committed fully, each looking to the other to take the lead, and Nibali had just enough to hold on.

Seven riders got away in an early break as soon as the stage began but they never managed to extend their lead to more than three minutes.

By the time they reached the Holme Moss hill, the toughest climb of the day, with still more than 60km to race, their lead was down to just seconds and the break was clearly doomed.

Frenchman Blel Kadri, did try to stay away and managed another 20km out on his own before he was caught on the next bump in the road, the third category Midhopestones climb, after spending 160km in the lead.

By now the main sprinters, including Kittel, had long been shelled out the back.

The pace kept going up, led by the Garmin-Sharp team of American Andrew Talansky, the Criterium du Dauphine winner, and that reduced the lead group to less than 20 riders.

Around 20-30 others got back in contact on the descent while another Frenchman, Pierre Roland, broke out for home on his own after going over the penultimate Oughtibridge climb 18km from home but his burst lasted only 10km.

Contador and Froome's late accelerations further shredded the field but Nibali had the last laugh.

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