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Kevin Vauquelin wins Stage 2 as Tadej Pogacar claims Tour lead

Vauquelin celebrates his win
Vauquelin celebrates his winReuters
Tadej Pogacar (25) claimed the Tour de France overall lead with a late attack in Sunday's second stage, though the Slovenian may have been surprised by how easily defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (27) followed him despite his recent lack of racing.

While the 2020 and 2021 Tour winner's lightning attack on the ascent of San Luca left fellow favourites Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel seemingly glued to the road, Vingegaard had no trouble keeping up despite entering the race having not competed since he sustained a collapsed lung in a crash almost three months ago.

Tour debutant Kevin Vauquelin was the second French winner in the first two days after being the best of the breakaway in the ascent to San Luca (1.9km at 10.6%) as he gave his Arkea-B&B Hotels team their first win in the race.

Romain Bardet, who started the day in the leader's yellow jersey, finished 21 seconds behind Pogacar to lose the overall lead by six seconds while Evenepoel eventually managed to bridge the gap with Vingegaard and his rival.

Overall, Pogacar leads Belgian Evenepoel and Vingegaard of Denmark, who are second and third, respectively, on added places with no time difference. Roglic is now 21 seconds down on Pogacar.

Eleven riders broke away early but none of them posed a threat to Bardet's yellow jersey.

They opened a 10-minute gap and it became quickly obvious that they would battle it out for the stage win despite a late acceleration from the peloton.

In the leading group, Frenchmen Jordan Jegat and Axel Laurance attacked on the San Luca climb in a stadium-like, deafening atmosphere.

It was the first of two ascents to San Luca up alongside the Portico which features 666 arches.

Vauquelin, Norwegian Jonas Abrahamsen and Nelson Oliveira of Portugal broke free in the flat part leading to the bottom of San Luca.

The Frenchman then upped the pace right away and did not look back. Abrahamsen took second place with another Frenchman, Quentin Pacher, finishing third.

"I've had so many tough times, in training, at the Tour de Suisse, at the French championships, and yesterday I got dropped, I was a bit at the end of my tether," Vauquelin said.

"But I had a sense of revenge and I knew the wheel was going to turn. I turned quickly."

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