Today was probably the last chance saloon for the general classification contenders in the sixth stage of the Tour of Britain, but at the end of the 91-mile outing Lars Boom not only increased his lead but also won the stage into the bargain.
Boom looked impressive as he jumped away from the lead group of 21 riders on the tree-lined finish in the historic city of Wells, in Somerset. While Boom increased his lead from 12 seconds to 28 seconds the rest of the general classification was turned on its head with Geraint Thomas slipping way down the order following a crash and the German Leopold Koenig of Team NetApp taking his place. Daniel Lloyd of Garmin-Cervelo replaced Boy Van Poppel for third spot.
At the start in Taunton the crowd were as interested in speaking to the legendary Sean Kelly, who was visiting his eponymous An-Post team, as they were to the 88 riders who were lining up to start the race. Asked what he thought Boom should be doing today Kelly said: "I think he has to keep control of the race and all the guys who are a bit further away on GC, and we've seen that where breaks go, to control with a single team is difficult and unless you have other teams that are interested to ride to close down breaks, then its dangerous and we've seen these breaks."
The first important break of the day saw Ben Swift (Sky), Mark McNally (An Post-Sean Kelly), Paul Voss (Endura) and Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) crested the Cheddar Gorge clear of the bunch, which was still altogether for the first category climb. By the time they had reached the final climb of the day in the shape of the first category Old Bristol Hill with 15 miles to go they had been joined by the group that would stay clear to the finish.
The peloton in Cheddar Gorge
Talking of his win Boom said, "It was a difficult stage. There were four guys, one was at 48 seconds, so we kept close to them. My guys worked really hard, They are so strong, I am really thankful. They worked so hard for me today, and for the rest of the last climb there were attacks from other riders and there was a small group going.
"In the last 20 kilometres there were attacks for the points at the King of the Mountains, (which has been wrapped up by British rider Jonathan Tiernan Locke) and some attacks from (Steve) Cummings and (Michael) Rogers. They went pretty hard I think, but I could keep the wheel and it was okay. After that there were a lot of guys for Garmin, and a lot of other guys that were pulling for the GC guys. I made an advantage of that and I'm really happy with the win."
Although tomorrow's stage is the longest of the this year's race at 124 miles it is mainly flat, so Boom's Rabobank team should be able to look after its leader once again. The Dutchman certainly thinks so: "My teammates are very strong and are going to work tomorrow, maybe with some of the sprinters teams. I am confident for the time trial – that is one of my favourite disciplines, so I am confident. But anything can happen, so I will try my best tomorrow. We will be alright I think."
Boom now wears both the leaders jersey and the blue Prostrate Cancer Charity Points jersey and looks likely to keep both until the final podium ceremony in London on Sunday.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.