- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

SHEFFIELD, England (AP) - For those who had doubts about Vincenzo Nibali’s current form, there is little left to fuel the skepticism.

The former Vuelta and Giro winner, who waited until last month to post his first win of the season at the Italian championships, made the most of his rivals’ wait-and-see attitude in Sunday’s Stage 2. Nibali claimed a first stage win on the Tour and seized the race leader’s yellow jersey.

Here are five things to know about Sunday’s and Monday’s stages:


SHARK ATTACK: Nibali launched a perfectly-timed attack to win Stage 2 ahead of his main rivals, completing his collection of grand tours’ race leader jerseys.

The canny move, ignited after the final climb of a hard day of racing featuring nine short but brutal ascents, paid off as Nibali took charge of the race. Overall, he’s two seconds ahead of a group of 20 riders, including defending champion Chris Froome and two-time winner Alberto Contador.

Contador and Froome tested each other in the Cote de Jenkin Road, five kilometers (three miles) from the finish line, before Peter Sagan tried his luck in vain. Nibali, who has been nicknamed “The Shark”, then powered away from the group, making the most of his rivals’ hesitation.

Following a crash at the Tour of San Luis earlier this season and the birth of his first daughter Emma Vittoria, critics of the classy Italian had questioned his form in the months leading to the Tour.

“It was a fabulous day for me, I led a good move,” said Nibali, the 2013 Giro champion. “It was difficult. There was a lot of headwind. I was lucky to attack at the right moment.”

Behind, world champion Rui Costa led the chase but it was too little, too late and Nibali had enough time to celebrate as he crossed the line in Sheffield ahead of Greg van Avermaet and Michal Kwiatkowski.


CONTADOR AND FROOME IN THE MIX: Contador and Froome were happy not to take the race lead too early and to leave Nibali’s Astana team with the responsibility of controlling the race.

“They were all hesitant because nobody wanted the jersey,” said Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford. “Nibali’s got it for two seconds and Astana will have to now defend it, which is pretty good for anybody else. Perfect. They’ve got to work, but the question is whether they’ll defend it, we’ll wait and see tomorrow, but it’s ideal for us.”

Contador was content to be in good health after two days of dangerous racing among hundreds of thousands of fans lining narrow and undulating roads.

“Alberto did not want to win this stage nor take the jersey,” said Contador’s press officer Jacinto Vidarte, adding that the first stages had gone well so far for the rider.

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