• LottoNL-Jumbo's Dylan Groenewegen wins a very tough stage of the Tour of Britain, with Aussies Ewan and Jones filling out the podium. (SWPix)Source: SWPix
Lars Boom retained the overall lead of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain heading into the final day to Cardiff, surviving an explosive day of racing through the Cotswolds to Cheltenham as his teammate Dylan Groenewegen took the stage win ahead of Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) and Brenton Jones (JLT Condor).
By
Cycling Central

10 Sep 2017 - 8:52 AM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2017 - 8:53 AM

Groenewegen outsprinted triple stage winner Caleb Ewan and Brenton Jones but it was only thanks to the hard work of his Lotto NL Jumbo team that the race had come back together for the sprint alongside Cheltenham's Imperial Gardens having resisted attacks from general classification contenders Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) among others, the latter of whom was caught within the final 1,500-metres.

"The stage was very hard but I survived it. It was a little bit freestyle sprint so I used Caleb Ewan's wheel and Gaviria's”, said Groenwegen afterwards.

"He [Ewan] is in great form so it's really good that I could beat him. After the Tour de France I was a little bit tired, but I think the form is good so it's good for morale.”

Ewan takes the hat-trick at Tour of Britain
23-year-old Caleb Ewan claimed Stage 6 of the Tour of Britain to complete an impressive hat-trick of victories with a convincing sprint.

Ewan was disappointed after being given every chance to win the stage.

“I am pretty disappointed to get so close today after such a good lead-out from the boys,” Ewan explained. “I just waited a few seconds too long and then Dylan got the jump on me and I didn’t get back up to him in time before the line.”

“It was really cold and wet again today so that made things harder. There’s one more stage to go and hopefully that will be another bunch sprint so I can have another go.”

In third was Australian Brenton Jones, who has enjoyed a superb season racing over in the United Kingdom for JLT Condor and was able to show his speed again today, sprinting to his best result in the race to date.

After a start under clear blue skies in Hemel Hempstead, the race exploded into life – as did the rain clouds – with an aggressive start to the stage and Cannondale-Drapac in particular making several attempts to put riders up the road.

In the end two groups of three riders went away, but with neither a threat to the overall they were allowed to merge and build a four-minute plus lead, with Jacob Scott (An Post Chain Reaction) extending his SKODA King of the Mountains lead as a result.

With the race entering the Cotwolds and the gap just over the three minute mark, Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin) sparked the attacking, going clear of the peloton but not quite making it to the leading six.

Behind him a strong five-rider group made an attempt to work their way across, including his Katusha Alpecin teammate Reto Hollenstein, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Sylvian Diller (BMC), Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac) and Dowsett. The five got 30-seconds clear of the peloton, but with Lotto NL-Jumbo alert to the threat to Boom's lead began to work hard bringing the whole race back together.

This immediately spurred another Katusha Alpecin into action, with World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin driving clear in heavy rain on an impressive, and sustained, solo effort, but one that was ultimately doomed under the Lotto pressure.

On the day's final SKODA King of the Mountains climb at Cleeve Hill, topping out with less than 10-kilometres remaining five riders went clear including former winners Boasson Hagen and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac).

Van Baarle then crashed out on the descent, obstructing Laurens De Plus (Quickstep Floors) and leaving Dion Smith (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) and Boasson Hagen out front. With the teams of the sprinters sensing the chance of success again – that earlier in the day had seemed highly unlikely – they came to the front on the final five kilometres in Cheltenham, reeling the trio in just before the final kilometre arch.

"It was quite a hectic start but we controlled it quite well,” said Boom after the stage, praising the work throughout the day of this team. "It was a good situation for us, Gijs van Hoecke and Primoz Roglic controlled the bunch quite well.

"We never had any problems except a small problem with 30, 40 kilometres to go when the group with Dowsett and Kwiato went. I did not react straightaway and Campenaerts had to pull on the front.

"There was a small breakaway with Boasson Hagen, which was a bit critical, but I went full downhill to try and keep the gap as small as possible and then the sprinters teams took over.

"The main goal was to not allow Boasson Hagen and Kwiato to take seconds as tomorrow if you take all of the seconds – there are 19-seconds in total available if you're lucky. But now we are a little bit more comfortable so it'll be a good day tomorrow.”

Heading towards Wales and the final stage Boom leads overall by eight-seconds from Küng, with teammate Campenaerts and Vasil Kiryienka each a further second behind.