Simon Yates went on the attack in an early bid to lay down a marker for a successful defence of his Tirreno-Adriatico title but the key man for Australian outfit Team BikeExchange ended up paying for the move on the race’s second stage.
The Englishman was part of four-man break on the undulating 202-kilometre leg from Camaiore to Chiusdino but he ended up losing a potentially decisive one minute 22 seconds after being caught and dropped in the finale.
World champion Julian Alaphilippe ended up sprinting to victory on the uphill finish, with Belgian Wout van Aert, third on the day, remaining in the overall lead by a mere four seconds from the Frenchman.
Yates has now dropped down to 58th, one minute 34 seconds down on the lead but the better news for Bike Exchange was that Robert Stannard sprinted home for an impressive sixth place on the stage.
“Obviously with Simon, it was a disappointing result, we can’t hide from that,” said Matt White, BikeExchange’s head sport director.
“It is his first race here and it is the start of his preparation for the Giro d’Italia. He looked in very good shape on the final climb with the KOM and taking some time bonuses. We will now just refocus for tomorrow.”
The 22-year-old Australian Stannard, though, looked at home among elite company to move up to seventh place on the general classification.
Earlier, Yates had attacked with three others with a little over 30km left and they built up a lead of nearly half-a-minute before the move began to break up and his suffering began on the final seven-kilometre uphill stretch.
While Yates cracked, Stannard kept up with the race favourites as Alaphilippe stole victory with a trademark late burst.
“The goal for me today was a top-five result, so I was pretty close, but I think I did what I could do in the final there. I had the legs; it was just a matter of positioning in the final kilometre,” said Stannard.
Friday’s third stage is a challenging 219-kilometre (36-mile) route from Monticiano to Gualdo Tadino.
The race ends on Tuesday with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.