Ben Swift claimed a close second place in the bunch sprint on stage two at the Tour de Luxembourg.
The Brit took up the mantle of the team’s sprinter and mirrored the result of team-mate Davide Appollonio 24 hours earlier as the stage culminated in another sprint finish.
On the line in Leudelange it was Andre Greipel who notched up his second consecutive stage victory in the race, the powerful German (Lotto-Belisol) joined by team-mate Jurgen Roelandts who rounded out the podium places.
The sprinters’ teams had again fancied their chances and closed the gap to two escapees significantly during three laps of the finishing circuit, Team Sky once again to the fore on the Luxembourg roads.
As was the case on Thursday, Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) benefitted from a bunch finish and no time bonuses to retain his three second advantage at the top of the standings ahead of the tougher proposition of stage three. Mathew Hayman remains just five seconds off the lead in fourth.
The race headed out of Schifflange ahead of 183.9km with attacks immediately firing off the front, yet in contrast to stage one a number were shut down, leading to a rapid start to the day.
Eventually it was Kevin Van Melsen (Accent.Jobs) and Vytautas Kaupas (Differdange) who made a move stick, powering clear to build up an advantage in excess of seven minutes.
Saur-Sojasun arrived at the front to take control on behalf of Engoulvent, while as the day wore on the sprinters’ teams came to the fore, slashing the gap to just 2:45 as the race entered the first of three laps of the 16km finishing circuit.
Team Sky were among those who came to the fore as the lead-out trains formed, Andreas Kloden (RadioShack-Nissan) raising a few eyebrows with a late attack before being reeled back in as the sprint won out.
Strength in depth
After the stage Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist admitted that taking on Greipel is always a difficult task, yet was happy to see the team riding well as a unit.
He said: “Greipel is really fast. You have to just say chapeau. But we were right up there in the sprint, today with Swifty, so it proves that the guys are in good shape. We will keep on trying as always. We knew the final was harder than many expected so we left it between Swifty and Appo as to who went for the finish.
“That worked out well and the team gave him some really good support in the sprint which was good to see.
“Tomorrow’s stage will have an impact on the GC, but how much is difficult to say. It will be interesting to see what happens. Michael [Barry] looks good and has been riding really well here and in Norway. Puccio will also have a free role. These guys normally work for their team-mates and now they have the chance to maybe do something for themselves which is nice.”