In a stage run off in extremely blustery and often wet conditions right from the start at Sidmouth on Devon’s Jurassic Coast the peloton never let the day’s break get more than just over a three minute advantage as the race wended its way across Devon towards the Dartmoor denouement.
With the race together at the foot of the Haytor climb it was BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis who kicked things off with the first attack, being joined by Tom Dumoulin, Gorka Izagirre and Poels as Vermote was distanced.
At 2.5-kilometres to go Cummings and Tony Gallopin briefly made the junction with the three leaders, before Dennis went again, taking Dumoulin and Poels with him.
The next attack was the tall Dutchman’s, and despite the valiant efforts of the Giant Alpecin and BMC rider they couldn’t do enough to reel him in, allowing the Team Sky man to add victory atop Haytor to his summit finish win on Hartside in Cumbria 12-months previously.
“The last part we took control and we wanted to close the gap to go for the stage victory with me,” said Poels speaking afterwards.
“Yogi [Ian Stannard] and Danny [van Poppel] did a really good job, so I was really happy with that. It’s my sixth [win] of the season already and it’s always nice to win here at the Tour of Britain; last year on the uphill finish and this year again. It’s a really nice race.”
Along with Vermote’s demotion from the overall lead to eleventh overall, Etixx Quick-Step teammate Dan Martin completed a miserable day for the team, dropping from fifth to twelth.
Six riders now lie within a minute of the lead going into the Bristol double-stage, including Olympic Games Time Trial Silver medallist Tom Dumoulin, and 2014 Tour of Britain winner Dylan Van Baarle.
The last of those six Xandro Meurisse extended his lead in the SKODA King of the Mountains classification to 15-points over Nicolas Roche, with just 18 left to play for on the Bristol circuit on Saturday afternoon.
For the sprinters Jasper Bovenhuis enjoyed another productive day in the breakaway to hold an eight point lead over Johnny McEvoy in the Yodel Sprints Jersey, while Dan McLay and Nicola Ruffoni have 29-points a-piece towards the Chain Reaction Cycles Points Classification, with the Brit wearing the blue jersey.