ITALY’S Vincenzo Nibali launched a late attack to win stage two yesterday and claim the race leader’s Yellow Jersey.

Hundreds of thousands of people again lined the 201-kilometre route from York on a brutal and unpredictable day of racing.

Nibali (Astana), the 2013 Giro d’Italia champion, left it late but timed his bid to the line to perfection to secure victory ahead of a number of his rivals for the overall title.

He also claimed the race leader’s Maillot Jaune, from stage one winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), who endured a difficult day.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) had not travelled to Sheffield to view the stage but took to the front up the day’s final climb, the brutally steep, 800m long Jenkin Road.

The Spaniard was unchallenged until, within sight of the summit, defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) stretched his legs.

The descent and run-in saw numerous attempts to break off the front, all of which floundered until Nibali burst clear inside the final 2km.

The Italian champion, nicknamed the Shark, bared his teeth and led by 50m under the flamme rouge at 1km to go and his rivals looked to each other to react.

World champion Rui Costa (Lampre) led the pursuit, with Froome on his wheel, but the lack of a coordinated chase ensured Nibali would win and he was able to celebrate a first Tour stage win of his career.

Belgian Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was second, two seconds behind, with Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) third.

Sagan, who was the favourite to win the stage did at least have the consolation of winning back the Green Jersey which he has won in the past two Tours and he also tops the young riders, or White Jersey classification.

Frenchman Cyril Lemoine tops the mountains classification after working his way into the break of the day.