Dutchman Lars Boom (Rabobank) tightened his grip on the overall classification of the 2011 Tour of Britain by winning stage six to Wells on Friday.
Boom sprinted ahead of Alexandre Pichot (Europcar) and Leopold Koenig (NetApp) to score his second stage win of the race.
The bonus seconds awarded for the stage win mean that it is unlikely that Boom will now lose the lead in the race with just three stages remaining. Crucially, Sunday morning’s short individual time trial plays to Boom’s talents against the clock.
Boom is now placed 28 second ahead of Koenig overall, with highest-placed Brit Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervelo) in third at 29 seconds.
“It was a difficult stage,” said Boom after the finish. “There were four guys, one was at 48 seconds, so we kept close to them.
“In the last 20 kilometres there were attacks for the points at the King of the Mountains, and some attacks from (Steve) Cummings and (Michael) Rogers. They went pretty hard I think, but I could keep the wheel and it was okay. After that there were a lot of guys for Garmin, and a lot of other guys that were pulling for the GC guys. I made an advantage of that and I’m really happy with the win.”
An early attack by Ben Swift (Sky), Paul Voss (Endura), Mark McNally (An Post) and Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) stuck. However, the quartet weren’t given much slack by the Rabobank-led bunch and didn’t gain much more than a minute on the chasers.
Bak crested the picturesque climb of Cheddar Gorge first as Swift was distanced, and then it was into Wells. As the escape group crossed the finish line before embarking on the final lap, the bunch were right on their tail and they were caught soon after.
The peloton split on the final classified climb of the day, Old Bristol Hill. A group of 21 riders including Boom distanced the remainder of the bunch on the descent into Wells. Brits Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) missed the split.
The Thomas/Cavendish group came in 1-24 down on Boom. Thomas lost his second place overall, sliding down to 12th.
Several riders fell victim to crashes during the stage. Ian Bibby (Motorpoint), who had started the day in sixth place overall, abandoned the race after breaking his collarbone. The same crash brought down Thomas, who remounted but looked to be struggling during the remainder of the stage.
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Rapha Condor Sharp) completed his quest for the King of the Mountains title, cresting the first category Old Bristol Hill first to cement his lead in the competition. With only three third category climbs remaining in the race, Tiernan-Locke has secured the KoM jersey over rival Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport-Specialized).
Saturday’s stage seven runs from Bury St Edmunds to Sandringham and will likely end with a bunch sprint. The race concludes on Sunday (September 18) in London with a split day of racing – a decisive 8.8km time trial in the morning followed by a 90km criterium in the afternoon.
Tour of Britain 2011, stage six: Taunton to Wells, 146km
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
2. Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Europcar
3. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp
4. Jan Barta (Cze) NetApp
5. Stephen Cummings (GB) Sky
6. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard-Trek
7. Jack Bauer (NZ) Endura Racing
8. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin-Cervelo
9. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) NetApp
10. Iker Camano (Spa) Endura Racing all same time
Overall classification after stage six
1. Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
2. Leopold Koenig (Cze) NetApp at 28 secs
3. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 29 secs
4. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard-Trek at 31 secs
5. Stephen Cummings (GB) Sky at 32 secs
6. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen at 32 secs
7. Jan Barta (Cze) NetApp at 32 secs
8. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GB) Rapha Condor Sharp at 32 secs
9. Iker Camano (Spa) Endura Racing at 50 secs
10. Joost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard-Trek at 52 secs
Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
King of the Mountains classification
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (GB) Rapha Condor Sharp
Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post-Sean Kelly
Paul Voss, Mark McNally and Lars Bak in an escape group through Cheddar Gorge
Mark McNally, Paul Voss and Lars Bak reach Wells
Lars Boom opens up his sprint, but no-one can follow
Lars Boom’s second stage win brings him closer to overall victory
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke secures the King of the Mountains jersey
Lars Boom puts on the race leader’s gold jersey
Tour of Britain 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
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Tour of Britain 2011: Stage reports
Stage five: Renshaw and Cavendish score HTC one-two
Stage four: Hushovd takes stage in Caerphilly
Stage three: Boom wins stage in Stoke to take lead
Stage two: Stage cancelled, riders parade in Kendal
Stage one: Cavendish wins opening stage of Tour of Britain
Tour of Britain 2011: Photo galleries
By Andy Jones
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Tour of Britain 2011: Press conference photo gallery
Tour of Britain 2011: Riders warm up photo gallery
Tour of Britain 2011: Start list
Tour of Britain 2011: Provisional start list
Tour of Britain 2011: TV guide
Tour of Britain 2011: ITV4 TV schedule