Lars Boom extended his lead in the Tour of Britain by winning stage six in Wells to secure a ten second time bonus.
Rabobank rider Boom led the general classification by 12 seconds over Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas ahead of the 146km stage.
But Boom tightened his grip on the race by sprinting to victory after the peloton split on the final climb, with the injured Thomas finishing one minute, 24 seconds adrift in the second group.
The Dutchman now leads the general classification by 28 seconds ahead of Leopold Koenig (Team NetApp), with Brit Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervelo) a further second back in third.
“My team mates are very strong and are going to work tomorrow, maybe with some of the sprinters teams,” said Boom. “I am confident for the time trial – that is one of my favourite disciplines, so I am confident. But anything can happen, so I will try my best tomorrow. We will be alright I think.”
Boom and his Rabobank team were active from the off, reeling in an early escape before the 25-year-old claimed a three second time bonus by winning the first intermediate sprint, taking advantage of a crash that saw Thomas hit the deck and Ian Bibby (Motorpoint) abandon with a broken collarbone.
“That wasn’t in the plan. G [Geraint Thomas] is a bit cut up after his crash but he is okay,” said Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates.
“He was going for the first sprint at kilometre 12. We knew it was going to be a fast one and they were going for it so not a good time to hit the deck. It was lucky I guess that it wasn’t a lot worse given the speed. When you hit the ground going 70k an hour almost you can do a lot of damage.”
Ben Swift (Team Sky), Paul Voss (Endura), Mark McNally (An-Post) and Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) were eventually allowed to go clear, while King of the Mountains leader Jonathan Tiernan Locke (Rapha Condor Sharp) clinched the remaining points on Cheddar Gorge to seal the classification.
The lead quartet were not allowed an advantage of more than a minute and were reeled in as the race approached Wells, before a split in the peloton on Old Bristol Hill saw 21 riders jump ahead with just over 25km remaining.
And Boom proved strongest in the sprint to all but seal the Tour of Britain crown ahead of Saturday’s flat stage in East Anglia and Sunday’s double stage – a time trial and criterium – in the capital.
Discuss stage six in this forum thread.
1) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 03:19:02
2) Alexandre Pichot (Fra, Europcar) st
3) Leopold Koenig (Ger, Team NetApp) st
4) Jan Barta (Cze, Team NetApp) st
5) Steve Cummings (GB, Team Sky) st
6) Linus Gerdemann (Ger, Leopard Trek) st
7) Jack Bauer (NZ, Endura Racing) st
8] Julian Dean (NZ, Garmin-Cervelo) st
9) Bartosz Huzarski (Pol, Team NetApp) st
10) Iker Camano (Spa, Endura Racing) st
Combativity award: Jamie Sparling (Can, Team Raleigh)
1) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 20:13:18
2) Leopold Koenig (Ger, Team NetApp) @ 0:28
3) Daniel Lloyd (GB, Garmin – Cervelo) @ 0:29
4) Linus Gerdemann (Ger, Leopard Trek) @ 0:31
5) Steve Cummings (GB, Sky ProCycling) @ 0:32
6) Jelle Wallays (Bel, Topsport Vlaanderen) st
7) Jan Barta (Cze, Team NetApp) st
8] Jonathan Tiernan Locke (GB, Rapha Condor Sharp) st
9) Iker Camano (Spa, Endura Racing) @ 0:50
10) Joost Posthuma (Ned, Leopard Trek) @ 0:52
1) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 52pts
2) Geraint Thomas (GB, Team Sky) 41pts
3) Mark Cavendish (GB, HTC Highroad) 40pts
King of the Mountains
1) Jonathan Tiernan Locke (GB, Rapha Condor Sharp) 71pts
2) Russell Hampton (GB, Sigma Sport Specialized) 48pts
3) Steve Cummings (GB, Sky ProCycling) 30pts
1) Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel, AN Post – Sean Kelly) 36pts
2) Russell Hampton (GB, Sigma Sport – Specialized) 13pts
3) Lars Boom (Ned, Rabobank) 11pts
Best young rider
1) Jelle Wallays (Bel, Topsport Vlaanderen) 20:13:50