Tour of Britain 2013 stage 2: Gerald Ciolek guts out the win

Lofkvist run down in uphill finale

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Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) showed he excels in the cold and rain with an impressive victory on the uphill finish on Beast Banks near Kendal.

The German sprinter won Milan-San Remo in similar conditions in March and used his power to jump away from the remains of the peloton on the climb to the line to win the stage and take the race leader's gold jersey.

Ciolek passed late solo attacker Thomas Löfkvist (IAM Cycling) on the climb and had enough power to beat an impressive Sam Bennett (AN Post-Chain Reaction) who also managed to get a gap on the rest of what remained of a tired and wet peloton after five hours of hard racing in the hills.

"We knew it was going to be an uphill finish and so expected it be hard but was still hard," Ciolek said after pulling on the leader's jersey.

It's great to take jersey at the Tour of Britain. This race is a goal for us. We always want to perform and expectations are high but we didn’t think we'd get the jersey, so it's great.

"I felt quite good today. I slipped on the last right turn and my chain came off and I had a gap to close but the guys did a perfect lead out to set me u. Bennett was strong but I had a little bit more at the line."

Tuesday's third stage is the vital 16km time trial stage around Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is the big favourite. Ciolek clearly has speed in his legs but admitted time trials are not his thing.

"It's not really a day for me tomorrow. It's nice to take the jersey now but time trials are not for me," he said.

How it happened

Like stage one, the second day of action saw the riders racing in wet and cold conditions as autumn came early to Britain and temperatures stayed below 10C.

Despite the conditions and the increased risk of crashes, the hilly profile of the stage in the stunning Lake District inspired some aggressive racing.

Seven riders quickly formed the early break with Michael Northey (Node 4 - Giordana Racing), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun), Angel Madrazo (Movistar), Matt Cronshaw (Team IG Sigma Sport), Jon Dibben (Great Britain) and Sean Downey (An Post-Chain Reaction) bravely going up the road as the race headed into the wilds of the Lake District.

Sadly crashes hit the race with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT) retiring early on. The crash cold be a huge blow for Visconti chances of riding the world championships for Italy.

The break opened a 2:30 gap but Team Sky controlled and guided the chase on the front of the peloton, with Bernhard Eisel willing doing much of the work on the front, with some token help from Cannondale for stage one winner and race leader Elia Viviani. However he would struggle through the stage on a difficult day, finishing well down.

The riders faced Honister Pass mid-stage, a bleak, narrow climb in the depth of the Lake District. The road was packed with British Cycling fans, inspiring Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to attack. They got a gap and set of in pursuit of the break.

Downey was first to the top of the climb ahead of Northey but Martin and Quintana were closing the gap. Soon after, with 50km to go, they caught and quickly distanced the remains of the break.

However the Sky led peloton was also closing in and despite Martin and Quintana trying to put up resistance, the race came back together on the rolling roads to Kendal with 35km to go.

Movistar seemed keen to take the race to Team Sky and sent Enrique Sanz up the road. He opened a 25 second gap but again Team Sky gradually chased him down and reeled him in on the wet roads. Wiggins sat safely in the peloton, sheltering on he wheels. He had a bike change mid-stage but looked strong and focused.

Sanz was eventually caught but other riders tried their hand: Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) made a lone move with 20km to go, Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF) had a dig and even Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) went off the front in a brief search of glory, perhaps knowing he did not have a chance on the climb to the finish.

Löfkvist made is move with eight kilometres to go and opened a significant gap. Unfortunately no other riders went with him or across to him, leaving out front alone. He battled on to the foot of the climb to the finish but only had a 10-second gap as the road headed upwards.

For a moment it seemed possible that Löfkvist could do it but then Bennett and Ciolek jumped away from the peloton in pursuit of glory. Bennett looked strong with his hands on the drops but Ciolek, danced on the pedals and got across to him before passing him in sight of the line to win on another day for cycling's real hard riders.

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