Peter Sagan will tomorrow swap the rainbow bands of world champion for the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France after winning today's Stage 2 in Cherbourg.
Joy in his Tinkoff team at the Slovak rider's victory which followed a tough finale to the 183km stage from Saint-Lo will be tempered by concerns over Alberto Contador, who crashed for the second day running.
The Spaniard, one of three former winners in the race, lost 48 seconds to rivals including defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky and last year's runner-up, Movistar's Nairo Quintana.
Today's tough finish meant it was always likely to be a puncheur rather than a sprinter such as overnight leader Mark Cavendish who would prevail today.
Sagan was many people's pick for the stage victory and he gave his all in the charge for the line to hold off Etixx-Quickstep's Julian Alaphillipe and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.
However, the world champion revealed afterwards that he had thought wrongly that two members of the day's break had crossed the line ahead of him - the stage win and the yellow jersey therefore coming as the most welcome of surprises.
“I am very happy as I didn't know I won today," said Sagan. "Thank you to all my team-mates, and especially to Roman Kreuziger. He did the last climb full gas and was pulling all the way. Then in the final I did my best for a third place but it was really for the win.”
“I'm really happy to have this jersey for the first time in my career. It's nice to win here again after no stage wins for the last two years.
"This year I'm having a really good season, from the classics to now, I'm very happy for this. Thanks again to Oleg Tinkov and Tinkoff Bank for their support and confidence, and I’d like to dedicate this victory also to Oleg for making this all possible with his support," he added.
Tinkoff sports director Steve De Jongh said. “The win with Peter is really nice. With 15km to go we never thought that the breakaway was going to come back but he lost time and it was up to Peter to do his sprint.
"He rode a great finish - it was world class from the world champ, and I'm really happy for him. It's nice for him after a few years with no wins to not only get the stage but to also take the yellow jersey.”
Referring to Contador's problems today, he said: “After 55km Alberto had a bad crash again - a rider came down in front of him and he went over and hurt himself, it was just bad luck.
"That's the reason why in the final he couldn't stand up to climb and he blew his legs. That was the reason that he lost time.”
“The next few days, firstly we will aim to recover - it's a long tour and with Alberto crashing again today we want to support him to let his body recover. We will talk this evening about the plan around defending Peter's yellow jersey.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.