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South Africa's Daryl Impey on Tuesday won the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country but Italy's Francesco Gavazzi, whom he beat in the sprint for the line, took the leader's green jersey.
Spain's Angel Vicioso, who finished third on Monday, filled the same position again on the 170.2km stage from Elgoibar to Vitoria.
The 28-year-old Impey was following up his second stage win in the race last year.
Helped by his teammates he held on strongly to prevail in the dash for the finish.
Gavazzi replaced Australian Simon Gerrans at the top of the overall standings.
The stage was marked by a solo breakaway by Amets Txurraka with the peloton swooping six kilometres from the line.
Wednesday's third stage takes the riders 164.7km from Vitoria to Trapagaran.