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Tour of Britain 2018: Poels wins on Whinlatter as Alaphilippe takes race lead

Joe Robinson
7 Sep 2018

Team Sky man proves smartest on climb as Roglic fades out of contention

Wout Poels (Team Sky) timed his attack to perfection on the summit finish of Whinlatter Pass to take victory on stage six of the Tour of Britain. He proved too strong in the final kilometre for Hugh Carthy (EF-Drapac) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) as he sprinted to the stage win.

However, there was a consolation for Alaphilippe as his second place on the stage bumped him into the race lead ahead of Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), who struggled on the day's final climb.

Alaphilippe made his initial move with 2km left to race with only Roglic and Carthy able to react to the change in pace. Eventually, as Roglic began to fade, Alaphilippe pushed again only to be caught and rounded by a patient Poels.

Roglic eventually finished well adrift of the leading duo, losing the race lead with just two stages remaining. 

Tomorrow, the peloton will head to Mansfield on the penultimate stage that should suit the sprinters left in the race.

The Queen Stage

A dominant performance by LottoNL-Jumbo on yesterday's short team time trial to the top of Whinlatter Pass propelled Primoz Roglic into the lead. Beating Quick-Step Floors by 16 seconds gave the Slovenian a six-second lead over Julian Alaphilippe. 

Today, the race would be experiencing deja-vu as stage six took the peloton from the exposed coastal roads of Barrow-in-Furness back to the summit of Whinlatter Pass, on what would be the Queen Stage of this year's race.

With a summit finish, it was likely that the eventual winner of the race overall would be decided today.

Starting the day on the coast, Quick-Step smelt crosswinds and immediately deployed Iljo Keisse to the front which set a furious pace. In the madness, a strong break of Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Vasil Kiryenka (Team Sky), James Shaw (Lotto Soudal) and Connor Swift (Madison-Genesis) broke clear. 

Meanwhile race leader Roglic and second on GC Alaphilippe had a small crash. Both looked fine but this did see the pace of the peloton ease slightly. This allowed the leading four to gain a two minute lead on the peloton and 50 second lead on a smaller chasing group with 130km still to race.

Panic stations in the peloton. Shaw was only two minutes adrift on GC and with Martin and Kiryenka, was threatening the overall lead. LottoNL and Quick-Step put on the pace to reduce the gap but surprisingly decided to sit up, the day ahead was still long.

The four ahead established themselves into a well-oiled machine, working a gap of just under three minutes. Swift was sweeping up the KOM points while Shaw was moving up on the virtual GC into the lead. 

With 40km remaining, the race had brought the break back down to 90 seconds as Quick-Step and Lotto continued their relentless pace. They were both unwilling to allow other teams to help, leaving the matter of the stage in their own hands.

It was proving to little avail, mind. The four head were proving resilient, holding the gap to 1 minute 45. This forced Fernando Gaviria and Max Schachmann to empty the tanks, bringing the break into almost touching distance within the final 10 miles, perfectly poised for a proper battle on the slopes of Whinlatter Pass.

Before the base of the climb, Direct-Energie joined the peloton party for reasons unbeknown to me as more teams began to rear their heads at the front. Martin gave up the good fight as National Champion Swift shot ahead of the others.

Team Sky led the team up Whinlatter Pass while Jungels and Alaphilippe took the race by the scruff of the neck, gapping Team Sky and the rest of the peloton, including race leader Roglic.

Alaphilippe was the first to move, with an attack strong enough to shell Roglic. However, Poels proved smarter, leaving it late to attack, eventually taking the stage honours.

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