Welcome to episode six of our Tour of Britain diaries.
The racing was frenetic today, probably the best day yet at the Tour of Britain, a real treat to watch. And we have plenty of treats coming too in this episode. We have dispatches from all three of our regular audio diarists, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling DS Colin Sturgess, Rory Townsend from Canyon dhb SunGod and Andy Turner from SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling. We welcome Great Britain’s Bob Donaldson on board as a new regular diarist for the rest of the race. And we hear from Saint Piran’s Steve Lampier, who tells us what the race has been like for the Cornish team’s first Tour of Britain start.
Stage 6 of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain crossed the Pennines from Carlisle to Gateshead over 198 kilometres, taking in three first category climbs along the way.
It began at a frenetic pace, with riders and teams knocking six bells out of each other trying to get into the break. Rohan Dennis, Julian Alaphillipe and others were all part of the tussle to get away.
Eventually, a nine-rider group formed consisting of our own Rory Townsend, Mark Cavendish, no less, Cav’s Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Tim Declerq, Jimmy Janssens of Alpecin-Fenix, Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Arkéa-Samic’s Dan McLay, Mark Donovan (Team DSM) and Mason Hollyman (Israel Start-Up Nation). It was a strong group, with Rory the only domestic team rider represented. The group soon decided that Mark Donovan – lying 9th on GC – was too much of a threat to their chances of success, and duly manoeuvred to drop both him and Mason Hollyman.
Rory hoovered up as many ŠKODA King of the Mountains and Eisberg Sprints points as he could en route, meaning teammate Jacob Scott has now secured the former outright and has a commanding lead in the latter.
The break was caught some way out, however, by a reduced peloton. James Shaw (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cylcing) then attacked on an uncategorised climb with around 15 kilometres to go, kickstarting a ten-rider move that went all the way to the finish. The move included all the main race favourites, with Wout van Aert sprinting to the win ahead of Ethan Hayter and Julian Alaphillipe. Shaw rolled in with an impressive 5th place. A 20-man group came in 10 seconds behind the leaders that included our diarist Bob Donaldson, Alex Peters (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling) and Max Stedman (Canyon dhb SunGod).
Hayter still leads the race overall but he now only has 4 seconds in hand over van Aert with two stages left. Shaw remains the best domestic team rider on GC in 14th.
Sadly, our diarist Andy Turner didn’t finish the stage, one of four withdrawals from the day along with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling’s Charles Page. And injuries for both Dan Bigham (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) meant that neither began the stage.
The race moves to Scotland tomorrow with a 194.8-kilometre stage from Hawick to Edinburgh with a picturesque route through the Scottish BordersSupport the show