There is no stopping Edvald Boason Hagen and his Team Columbia-HTC team mates at the Tour of Britain.
Despite a brave attack by Ben Swift (Katusha), Ian Stannard (ISD-Neri), Geraint Thomas (Barlworld), Serge Pauwels (Cervelo) and Thomas De Gendt (Vlaanderen), Columbia controlled the race all day and then mercilessly caught them 1.5km from the finish.
Boasson Hagen got another great lead out as the bunch crossed over the River Torridge and then accelerated away with three metres to go. Martin Reimer (Cervelo) tried to match him but could only just hold his wheel and hang on for second.
Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta) again proved he deserved his place in Team Sky and a place in the Great Britain team for the world championships by taking third place.
Thanks to time bonuses, Boasson Hagen extended his overall lead on Kai Reus (Rabobank) to 19 seconds. It is not a lot, but with Columbia so powerful and so in control, it is difficult to who can stop him winning in London on Saturday. Downing is now fifth at 35 seconds.
“It’s never boring to win stages,” Boasson Hagen said, after his fourth consecutive win and seventh at the race in two years.
“The team was working really, really hard. That was a strong group in front and hard to close, we had to begin chasing early because they worked very hard.”
“I was quite confident the whole stage except the last 10km, then it was a little different. But we got some help from some other guys, there was one Joker and Cervelo also did some small turns. It was good we got some help.”
“The team started getting tired but then Tommy (Lovkvist) did an amazing last 2k to 1k. In last corner a Cervelo rider came through, I had a nice lead out from him, then I just went full gas.”
The strength of Team Columbia is crushing for the rest of the field at the Tour of Britain. Boasson Hagen wants to keep on winning but is worried about pushing his team mates too hard.
“We have four stage wins, I’m really satisfied by that but I want to try for number five tomorrow. However the team working so hard today and the world championship is coming, so I don’t want to kill them before that.”
Team Columbia’s final effort will be during Friday’s 159km seventh stage from Hatherleigh to Yeovil. If they keep the yellow jersey after that, the criterium stage in London on Sunday will be a celebration stage.
Tour of Britain 2009: Stage six, Frome-Bideford, 183.7km
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-HTC in 4-05-20
2. Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo
3. Russell Downing (GB) CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta
4. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
5. Peirpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD-Neri
6. Michel Merlo (Ita) Barloworld
7. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin-Slipstream
8. Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil
9. Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Navigare
10. Davide Appoilonio (Ita) Cervelo all same time.
Overall classification after stage six
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-HTC in 22-17-17
2. Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank at 19sec
3. Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo at 21sec
4. Chris Sutton (Aus) Garmin-Slipstream at 24sec
5. Russell Downing (GB) CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta at 35sec
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 36sec
7. Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel at 40sec
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-Neri at 40sec
9. Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil at 42sec
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Cervelo at 42sec
Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift were part of a five-man break that shaped the day’s racing
Edvald Boasson Hagen makes it four
Big crowds turned out to watch the racing all along the route
Can anyone now unseat Boasson Hagen from the top of the ToB table?
Tour of Britain 2009: Related links
Wilkinson battered after stage four
Wiggins quits ToB to focus on TT World Champs
Downing in the mix after magical adjustment
Lapthorne goes on the attack and into the spotlight
Tour of Britain goes mad for Wiggins
Downing aiming high in Tour of Britain
Can a British rider win the Tour of Britain?
British pros head home to fight for Worlds places
Halfords hit the Tour of Britain
Rapha-Condor names Tour of Britain squad
Cavendish to miss Tour of Britain
Katusha and Rabobank announce Tour of Britain teams
Tour of Britain and Tour Series on ITV4
Tour of Britain 2009 route unveiled
Stage five: Boasson Hagen takes control
Stage four: Boasson Hagen makes it two
Stage three: Hagen does it again
Stage two: Dutchman Reus wins second stage at Tour of Britain
Stage one: Sutton wins opening stage of ToB
Guide and info
Tour of Britain 2009: Start list
Tour of Britain official website