• Julian Alaphilippe pulls on the leader's jersey after Stage 6 of the 2018 Ovo Energy Tour of Britain (Getty)Source: Getty
Wout Poels rode with cold and calculated experience to win the queen stage of the Tour of Britain that Julian Alaphilippe now leads with two days remaining.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
8 Sep 2018 - 6:29 AM  UPDATED 8 Sep 2018 - 6:46 AM

The 168.3km race was decided in the closing kilometres of the Whinlatter Pass mountaintop finish where Poels (Sky), Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac) fought it out.

Alaphilippe, 26, and Carthy, 24, cooperated and took turns in the intermittent rain as Poels sat on, ignoring the sporadic elbow flicks that begged him to work. The 30-year-old waited until inside the final kilometre before accelerating away, comfortably taking line honours.

“I’m really happy. It’s my third time winning an uphill finish here at the Tour of Britain so it’s always really nice,” Poels said yesterday.

The Dutchman now sits second overall – 17 seconds in arrears of Alaphilippe with overnight race leader Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) third at 32 seconds. Australian Chris Hamilton (Sunweb) jumped back into top 10 following the decisive outing from Barrow-In-Furness, in England’s far north, and is now ninth.

Poels downplayed his chances of usurping two-time Tour de France stage winner Alaphilippe over the remaining two stages, which are on paper tailored to the sprinters.

“It’s going to be a hard fight, everything is flat, but you never know so we keep trying,” he said.

Alaphilippe finished the stage second behind Poels to lynch the green leader’s jersey from Roglic, who popped with 1.4km to go.

“I’m really proud of my team today. Everybody was riding to protect me, to catch the breakaway before the last climb. Bob [Jungels] did an incredible effort for me. I was in a good position with all the favourites, especially Primoz Roglic, he was always on my wheel,” said Alaphilippe.

“In the end I tried to attack the last time to take the distance and I was only riding to try to take the jersey. For the stage victory, Wout Poels was fresher than me so I’m really not disappointed.”

Quick-Step Floors signalled its overall intent much earlier in the piece with Alaphilippe, Jungels and Max Richeze sweeping the first intermediate prime.

Sky also showed its hand, splitting the race in crosswinds that animated the opening kilometres however, was then able to sit-in and maintain position with Vasil Kiryienka in the break.

Kiryienka, Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), British national road champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) and James Shaw (Lotto Soudal) comprised the main escape of the day but were kept on a tight leash with a maximum time gap of about three minutes.

LottoNL-Jumbo and Quick-Step Floors controlled the pace at the front of the bunch with no-one above working. Sensational Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria and his pilot Iljo Keisse, respectively, took monster turns as the gap to the break began to fall within the final 50km where the bunch lined-out.

Shaw was the last of the escapees to be caught as the main teams assembled lead-outs to position their leaders at the base of the ascent some 3.5km from the finish.

The Tour of Britain continues with Stage 7 tomorrow from West Bridgford to Mansfield. German statesman Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) is the man to beat, with Gaviria and Australian Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) yet to chalk a win on the board.