CORK, IRELAND, OCT. 1 -- Two-time defending champion Sean Kelly, helped by fellow Irishman Stephen Roche, grabbed the overall lead today after two cycling stages of the Nissan Classic Tour of Ireland.

Kelly finished second behind Joel Pelier of France in the 108-mile stage from Waterford, but had enough time in hand over his rivals to take the leader's yellow jersey by eight seconds over Pelier.

Pelier finished nine seconds clear at the summit of St. Patrick's Hill, a climb that almost brought some riders to a halt. Pelier's time was 4 hours 34 minutes 1 second.

Pelier broke clear of his 14 co-leaders after the first of the three ascents on the short, sharp hill on the outskirts of Cork.

The leading group, which also included Roche, the Tour de France winner and world champion, finished more than 25 minutes clear of the rest of the 99 riders.

Among those lagging in the main field was American Greg Lemond, still feeling his way back to complete fitness following a shooting accident and an appendectomy earlier this year. Lemond was 60th overall after two stages.

Roche finished seventh and was eighth overall.

The overnight leader, Malcolm Elliott, had a bad day. His chain came off as the vital break was forming and he missed the move, coming in with the main bunch over 20 minutes in arrears. He is now 17th.

Kelly's overall time is 11:22:53.