Pogacar takes Tour de France lead as French rookie steals stage

French rider Kevin Vauquelin won stage two at <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Bologna;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Bologna</a> (Thomas SAMSON)
French rider Kevin Vauquelin won stage two at Bologna (Thomas SAMSON)

Former champion Tadej Pogacar took the overall lead of the Tour de France on Sunday on a sweltering run to Bologna won by French rider Kevin Vauquelin.

Pogacar, who won the 2020 and 2021 Tours, attacked from the closing peloton on a steep hill near the finish line of the second stage as he, Jonas Vingegaard and Remco Evenepoel all gained time on the day.

Overnight leader Romain Bardet, winner of Saturday's opening stage, had predicted he would be unable to defend the yellow jersey and so it proved as he was dropped on the final ascent.

A 10-man attack had led as the race arrived in Bologna through apricot and peach orchards from the coastal resort of Cesanatico.

On the approach to two circuits of the Italian university city, their leading gap of around 10 minutes dropped rapidly.

Vauquelin, making his Tour debut, broke away from the remnants of the escape on the final hill, and won solo at a packed finish line in the city centre with temperatures hitting 33C (91F).

"It was painful, but I did it for myself, my family and my team," said the 23-year-old winner.

Behind them Slovenia's Pogacar produced a blistering acceleration on the very steepest part of the final climb, but was immediately shadowed by defending champion Vingegaard of Denmark.

This pair were then joined downhill by former Vuelta winner Evenepoel and former Giro winner Richard Carapaz.

While Carapaz led that group across the line, official results gave Pogacar the yellow jersey, with the others on the same time.