Great Britain youngster Simon Yates stormed to victory on the summit finish in Haytor to take stage six of the 2013 Tour of Britain.
Yates was among a group of 11 riders, which included IG Gold Jersey holder Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who broke clear on the final climb.
And Yates countered attacks by Quintana, Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani Valvove-CSF Inox) and Wiggins’ team mate David Lopez to go clear with 100m remaining and take the stage.
The victory on the Tour’s first ever summit finish boosts his chances of victory in the Young Rider classification, which he already led prior to his stunning ride.
The performance of pre-Tour favourite Wiggins’, meanwhile, ensured he remains top of the GC and strengthens his grip on the gold jersey.
With a fast pace set from the start on the uncategorised climb from Sidmouth to Honiton, David Lelay (Sojasun) repeated his solo attack on Caerphilly Mountain to break from the flag.
The pace proved too much for some riders from the very start, with many being dropped off the back on the punchy roads in the very early stages.
Up front, Movistar’s Angel Madrazo – who started the race as leader of both the Yodel Direct Sprints and Skoda King of the Mountains classifications – once again found himself in a break.
Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT), Mark Christian (Raleigh) and Rob Partridge (Team UK Youth) joined the Spaniard but for once his initial break did not stick.
With a furious pace being set, particularly on the early descents, there was no shortage of riders looking to attack off the front with Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) among those to have a go.
Madrazo, House, Liam Holohan (Madison-Genesis), Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Ian Wilkinson (Team UK Youth) eventually managed to get clear while Aaron Gate (AN Post Chain Reaction) attempted, but failed, to bridge.
And Madrazo took full advantage, taking first place in the intermediate sprint at Tiverton to further extend his lead over Gate in the classification.
Team Sky led the peloton behind them but, with the gap allowed to grow to almost four minutes at one point, Madrazo led over the first categorised climb – the category two Stoke Hill – to further extend his lead in that classification too.
The Spaniard’s collection of fluffy yetis, given to each day’s King of the Mountains leader, continues to grow and he furthered his dominance by crossing the summit of Mamshead first too.
House – who led the mountains classification after day one but has not challenged since – crossed in second, while further back Bardiani Valvove-CSF Inox riders joined Sky in leading the bunch.
With huge crowds lining large parts of the route, the leaders were reeled back a little due to the efforts of those leading the bunch, but still held a 2’10” advantage as the final sprint in Chudleigh went uncontested.
As they reached the climb ofSix Mile Hill an injection of pace from Madrazo, Holohan and Velits saw Wilkinson and House dropped as the bunch continued to cut the deficit.
Madrazo led over the top, but by the time they had reached the final climb up towards the summit finish at Haytor their escape was all but over.
Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky) led the peloton through the narrow roads at the start of the final climb, but as he pulled aside Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvove-CSF Inox) attacked solo.
The Giro d’Italia blue jersey winner’s attack came too early however and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) soon caught and passed him with Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) on his wheel.
David Lopez (Team Sky) brought the leading group back together again, and a second attack by Martin proved to be short-lived on the punishing climb.
With the Irishman forced to drop back to help team mate Jack Bauer, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana took up the challenge but Wiggins again neutralised the attack to lead under the flamme rouge.
And after a series of attacks and counter-attacks in the final kilometre, it was the youngster Yates, the world points champion on the track, who held off his more illustrious opponents to earn a famous victory.
Just behind him, IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger pipped Lopez to the line to earn a time bonus and move second overall, at 32″ behind Wiggins with this weekend’s final two stages remaining.
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Tour of Britain – stage six result
1 Simon Yates (GBR) Great Britain 3:23.43hrs
2 Martin Elmiger (SUI) IAM Cycling +2″
3 David Lopez (ESP) Sky Procycling same time
4 Sergio Pardilla (ESP) MTN-Qhubeka +5″
5 Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI) IAM Cycling same time
6 Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +7″
7 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling same time
8 Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (ITA) Bardiani Valvove-CSF Inox +12″
9 Marcel Wyss (SUI) IAM Cycling same time
10 Evaldas Siskevicius (LTU) Sojasun +31″
1 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky Procycling 24:10.55hrs
2 Martin Elmiger (SUI) IAM Cycling +32″
3 Simon Yates (GBR) Great Britain +1’06”
4 David Lopez (ESP) Sky Procycling +1’08”
5 Sergio Pardilla (ESP) MTN-Qhubeka +1’16”
6 Jack Bauer (NZL) Garmin-Sharp +1’19”
7 Ian Stannard (GBR) Sky Procycling +1’34”
8 Michal Golas (POL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1’36”
9 Sebastien Reichenbach (SUI) IAM Cycling +1’42”
10 Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +1’56”