Steve Cummings crossed the summit of the Haytor climb in Devon and into the Yellow Jersey presented by Eisberg as leader of the Tour of Britain at the end of the sixth stage, as Team Sky’s Wout Poels took the stage win in the South West.
Poels led the way, striking out with 1.5-kilometres to go to cross the summit alone for the victory, his third Tour of Britain stage win.
Behind Team Dimension Data man Cummings was amid a gaggle of chasers, crossing the line alone in eighth, at 21-seconds , but with more than enough in hand over previous race leader Julien Vermote to earn himself a 49-second lead on General Classification over Tom Dumoulin.
Speaking after pulling on the Tour of Britain’s Yellow Jersey presented by Eisberg for the first time, Steve Cummings said;
The team have done an excellent job all week in taking care of me every day and sacrificed chances for Mark [Cavendish] in the sprints to protect me. I was feeling a little bit of pressure coming into today and I just thought all I could do was do my best and I gave it my all at the end and I’m delighted to take Yellow.
I’ve been second twice before in this race, once by four seconds and once by eight seconds I think, so this race is normally won by seconds not minutes. You still have to claw back those seconds and it’s not done until it’s done. The time trial I’ll just give it full gas and hopefully it’ll be enough to hold off the superstar time trialists Dumoulin and Dennis.
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.
Highlights of Stage Six are on ITV4 at 8pm on Friday 9 September, with a repeat at 1pm on Saturday 10 September.
The Tour of Britain resumes with the Bristol Stage presented by OVO Energy, taking place over a 15-kilometre circuit in Bristol that includes both the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SKODA King of the Mountains climb of Bridge Valley Road.
Riders will contest an individual time trial over one lap of the Bristol circuit from 10:01, before the afternoon sees a six-lap circuit race on the same circuit, finishing on the Clifton Downs where Michal Kwiatowski won a Tour of Britain stage in 2014.