Belgium’s Jan Bakelants used every last ounce of energy to push over the line and win stage two of the 100th Tour de France as the peloton frantically chased him down at the finish.
The Radioshack Leopard rider was the sole survivor of a six-man attack, which broke away with less than seven kilometres of the 156km stage from Bastia remaining.
The peloton, led by Peter Sagan, were pedalling furiously down the final stretch, but even as Bakelants appeared to be all out of energy, he dug deep to take the yellow jersey from Marcel Kittel, who had been dropped in the mountains along with Mark Cavendish.
Sagan crossed in second ahead of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski.
This challenging second stage of the Tour had seen plenty of excitement in the mountains earlier in the afternoon, but then came to life for a second time when the riders approached the final categorised climb of the day, a short but steep ramp 12 kilometres from the finish.
There was drama four kilometres from the end when a small dog ran into the road, almost colliding with the breakaway and then standing in front of the approaching peloton before leaping out of the way in the nick of time.
Next year the second stage of the race finishes in Sheffield.