ZEELAND (Netherlands) (REUTERS) - One year after crashing out of the race, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were back in control of cycling's Tour de France, hurting their main rivals in a hectic second stage won by German Andre Greipel on Sunday.
Crosswinds and crashes caused several splits as the peloton made its way through heavy rain on a 166km ride from Utrecht, with Froome and Contador ending up in a small leading group that also included American Tejay van Garderen as they finished 1min 27sec ahead of the main pack.
In that pack was defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, Colombian Nairo Quintana and France's Thibaut Pinot, who could only limit the damage after being trapped behind.
Greipel was the fastest in the finishing straight, outsprinting Slovakian Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara, with the Swiss taking the overall leader's yellow jersey by 3sec over Tony Martin of Germany.
Pre-stage favourite Mark Cavendish of Britain could only manage a disappointing fourth place.
Briton Froome, the 2013 Tour champion, crashed out of the Tour on the fifth stage last year, while Spain's Contador, who is attempting a rare Giro d'Italia/Tour double, abandoned his 2014 race after breaking his shinbone in a crash.