London - Australia's Leigh Howard pipped Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish to win the second stage of the Tour of Britain on Monday.
Howard, riding for the Orica-GreenEdge team, managed to keep Team Sky's Cavendish at bay in a dramatic finale to the 180.7-kilometre trek from Nottingham to Knowsley Safari Park.
Cavendish had been led out by Bradley Wiggins and stage one winner Luke Rowe but did not have enough reserves of energy to overhaul Howard with the finish line in sight.
Holland's Boy Van Poppel took third place and that was enough to give the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rider the lead in the general classification.
Jack Bobridge of Green Edge and Pete Williams of Node4 broke clear on their own with 50km remaining, but with around 25km left the peloton had the leading duo in their sights and the sprint finish was on.
As the stage entered its closing moments it was Tour de France winner Wiggins out front and seemingly poised to tee up sprint expert Cavendish for the win.
Rowe took over the lead-out duties, but when it came to Cavendish's moment to strike, he appeared to get boxed in and Howard was able to escape.
"With 600m to go I led into it with Cav in my wheel," Rowe told ITV4. "He said he wanted to try and let me go and slip a few wheels back. We knew there was a bit of a dip and he'd use the run.
"Unfortunately on that dip the riders switched from right to left and he got a bit chopped up.
"Cav's shown how fast he was in that finish. It's frustrating but you could see how fast he was coming up at the line."