Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) stretched his overall lead on stage six of the Tour of Britain, despite Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) pipping him to the stage win in Nottingham.
Trentin was the last surviving member of the day’s breakaway, but Boasson Hagen attacked from the front of a very reduced bunch to catch the Italian and set up a two-up sprint in Nottingham.
And though it was Trentin who succeeded, to bag Etixx-QuickStep’s third stage win in six days, it means Boasson Hagen now leads by 13 seconds overall from Team Sky’s Wout Poels.
The pace was high from the off, with Team Sky hammering out a fast pace from the start and causing a big split in the peloton.
At the back, a touch of wheels ended Mark Cavendish’s race, the Etixx-QuickStep abandoning early in the day along with Andy Hawdon (Raleigh-GAC) and Hugh Carthy (Great Britain).
With no break having formed, race leader Boasson Hagen was able to bag three bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint – with Owain Doull (Team WIGGINS) and Wout Poels (Team Sky) following him across.
The grupetto was already well behind, meanwhile, leaving the Norwegian champion isolated in the front group.
A break eventually did form, with Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain), Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and defending champion Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) all there.
Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were also part of the eight-man move, both posing significant threats overall.
It meant the fast pace continued, with Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar), Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep), Stannard, Stefan Kueng (BMC Racing) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Garmin) forming a five-man break.
The yellow jersey group behind numbered just 24, meanwhile, before Stannard dropped back to help his Sky team-mates put the race in the gutter by continuing the fast pace.
Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) took his place in the break after bridging across, before Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff-Saxo) also bridged across – though not before Izaguiire and Kueng had attacked.
Sky repeatedly called for help with the chase, with Boasson Hagen refusing his former team-mates’ calls for some time before he too stuck his nose in the wind – a move which encouraged other teams to chase too.
Izaguirre on several occasions was the virtual leader on the road, and struck out solo again, but once the intermediate sprints were over and done with the gap soon tumbled.
Trentin made a late bid for freedom, but with the threats to the GC now over it was surpring to see Boasson Hagen continue to take a few big pulls on the front.
It became clear why when he burst off the front in pursuit of Trentin with 3.2km remaining, however, catching him with 2km to go in Nottingham and going straight to the front.
Boasson Hagen led the sprint out, but Trentin got his tactics spot on to take the stage win – meaning the Norwegian had to settle for six bonus seconds rather than ten.
Despite missing out on the stage win, however, he now leads Wout Poels overall by 13 seconds with two stages remaining.
Behind the leading duo, Owain Doull (Team WIGGINS) continued his impressive week by sprinting to third from the reduced bunch.
Tour of Britain 2015: stage six – result
1) Matteo Trentin (ITA) – Etixx-QuickStep – 4.45.27hrs
2) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – MTN-Qhubeka – ST
3) Owain Doull (GBR) – Team WIGGINS +4”
4) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
5) Jens Debusschere (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
6) Alberto Bettiol (ITA) – Cannondale-Garmin
7) Alex Peters (GBR) – Great Britain
8) Dylan Teuns (BEL) – BMC Racing
9) Xandro Meurisse (BEL) – An Post Chain Reaction
10) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – MTN-Qhubeka – 27.47.54hrs
2) Wouter Poels (NED) – Team Sky +13”
3) Rasmus Guldhammer (DEN) – Cult Energy Pro Cycling +43”
4) Owain Doull (GBR) – Team WIGGINS +44”
5) Dylan Teuns (BEL) – BMC Racing +51”
6) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Etixx-QuickStep – ST
7) Ruben Fernandez (ESP) – Movistar
8) Steven Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
9) Xandro Meurisse (BEL) – An Post-Chain Reaction
10) Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) – Tinkoff-Saxo