Leigh Howard took victory on stage two of the Tour of Britain as he edged out Mark Cavendish on the line.
The Australian (Orica-GreenEDGE) denied the British fans the chance to see a victory for Team Sky’s world champion with a well-timed burst of pace at the end of the second day of racing.
Team Sky had hit the front with only a handful of kilometres remaining, Christian Knees setting the pace before handing over to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
As the race reached its conclusion, Cavendish had opted to drop back in the line heading into the final metres with only one lead out man, overnight race leader Luke Rowe, left on the front heading into Knowsley Safari Park.
It was to prove an ineffective move, and after Howard had powered to victory, Boy Van Poppel's third-placed finish ensured the UnitedHealthcare man climbed to the top of the overall standings, despite sitting level on time with former gold jersey incumbent Rowe.
Break of the day
The stage had always looked likely to end in a bunch sprint as the peloton took on 180km from Nottingham to Knowsley, the roads again lined with fans as the British public turned out in their thousands.
As the race headed out of the start city six riders went clear, the group combining to build up a buffer of over four minutes on the chasing pack.
That bunch was led by Team Sky for the second day running, leading the group through a torrential downpour at one point as the British weather flexed its muscles.
With the gap tumbling to the escapees it was Pete Williams (Node4 – Giordana) and Jack Bobridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who were the last to be caught, the pair scooping the sprint jersey and the combativity prize respectively.
From then on it was a fight for positioning, Endura hitting the front in the closing kilometres for the second stage running while Marcin Bialoblocki (Node4 – Giordana) was among a number of attackers who chanced their arm on the run-in.