Nikolai Trusov (Tinkoff) is the new leader of the Tour of Britain after winning stage 2 between Yeovilton and Taunton. Trusov beat Australian Luke Roberts (CSC) and Frenchman Romain Feillu (Agritubel) in a 22-man sprint at the end of the 169km stage.
Overnight leader Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) finished more than 10 minutes down, losing any chance of overall victory in his national tour.
Over 30 riders blasted their way into the town centre with many riders hitting the deck as they overshot the final bend and crashed into the barriers and each other. Trusov and Roberts stayed upright with Trusov winning the sprint by the width of a tyre after nearly four hours of racing.
The big losers on the day were T-Mobile who had finally paid the price for their fierce defending of the yellow jersey on the shoulders of Cavendish as they all missed the race winning break. Cavendish led home the second main group on the road over ten minutes after Trusov had claimed victory.
Trusov was very pleased to take over the yellow jersey: "The team is very happy. Because we came here to win the yellow jersey and for us it is the maximum. It was a really hard stage. I was the last man in the breakaway group at 20km but first over the finish line. I was very lucky to miss the crash. We will try to defend the race leadership but with four people it is not easy to control the race."
Serge Pauwels (Chocolade Jacques - Topsport) moved into the mountains leadership after he scored 13 points on the three climbs of the day.
"I liked the first climb," Pauwels said. "There was a beautiful view at the top and I was able to take some points there. I got into the break and was able to win the second climb and then I was able to win the last one when there was a group of thirty of us at the front. I felt good today. Yesterday I had sore legs as were not able to train too much in Reading.
"It was not easy to work together because the course was up and down all day," the 23-year-old Belgian added. "I saved myself until the first climb as the race started very fast again today. I would like to keep the jersey and to gain some more points tomorrow but it depends how the race goes. If I can have a chance at the general classification then I would prefer that."
How it unfolded
A warm and sunny late summer day greeted the peloton when they left the Fleet Air Arms museum in Yeovilton on Tuesday morning. A number of riders had attempted to go clear in the early stages but the bunch reeled them at the first sprint prime at Othery after 19km but only after Christoff Van Heerden (Team Konica Minolta) took the five points on offer followed by Zakkari Dempster (SouthAustralia.com-AIS) and Alexander Seroff (Tinkoff Credit Systems).
The next sprint prime was won by Lars Bak (Team CSC) followed over by Adrian Palomares (Fuerteventura-Canarias) and the duo pulled clear to gain a 90 second lead. The lead stayed steady with T-Mobile on the keeping the leaders dangling off the front and Palomares reached the first the summit of Porlock Hill first taking the maximum 10 points in the Eon king of the mountains competition. Ben Swift (Barloworld) led the chasers over the climb in a group of ten riders with the bunch breaking up on the tough climb. Trusov had made the cut and was now leader on the road.
The two became twelve when the groups merged with Pauwels powering his way up the climb at Watersmeet after 109km followed over by Navigator's Matt Cook and David Munoz Banon (Fuerteventura-Canarias).
Pauwels attacked again on the third category climb at Wheddon Cross breaking up the lead group and moving into the lead in the mountains competition. The bunch behind split into two with a large group making it across to six leaders to form the race winning break of 33 riders.
There were six riders that did not finish the race namely Robbie Hunter, Chris Newton (whose wife has just gone into labour), Gordon McCauley, Michael Wolf and Linus Gerdemann, with Hans Dekker not starting today's race.
Last year's winner Martin Pedersen (Team CSC) walked over the finish line last of the leading group looking very dissappointed
The race is now wide open with 55 seconds separating the top 30 on general classification moving into Wednesday's short (152.5km) but tough Worcester to Wolverhampton stage.