The second stage, a hilly 156 km trek between Bastia and Ajaccio, included several climbs. France's Pierre Rolland made it clear he is after the Polkadot Jersey for the best climber in this Tour de France, but the peloton was back together for the final climb, the Côte de Salario, a short but steep little hill 12 km from the end.
Jan Bakelants took his chance and joined five other riders in a breakaway group, including Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel. The peloton was close on their heels. When Bakelants took the lead of the group, he suddenly had a little gap and he decided to go for it and set up a solo effort. In a very tense end to the stage, the Belgian just managed to keep the peloton at bay as the other breakaway riders were gobbled up by the bunch.
27-year-old Jan Bakelants, a winner of the Tour de l'Avenir (Tour of the Future, a stage race for young promising riders, red.) in 2008, also took the Maillot Jaune, as the former leader, Germany's Marcel Kittel, was left behind in a second group during the climb of the Col de la Serra halfway the race.
It was Slovakia's Peter Sagan who won the bunch sprint to take second place, just one second behind Bakelants. In the GC, Bakelants holds a 1-second advantage over second-placed David Millar of Britain. France's Julien Simon is third, also 1 second behind.
Andy Schleck told reporters after the race that the team will certainly defend the Yellow tomorrow, during the final stage on Corsica.
"Me, a stupid rider? Today I proved the contrary"
Speaking after the race, Bakelants said "it's hard to believe I won a stage in the Tour de France. I have no words for it. I had a lot of bad luck in my career so far, but today things worked out pretty well. It feels like a dream. I hope I don't wake up. (...) They always say I am not an intelligent rider, but today I made the perfect tactical choices."