After tackling the longest stage of the race yesterday, the Tour of Britain peloton were in action for the shortest road stage of the week today, with 152 kilometres from Alderley Park to Warrington contend with. Despite some early climbs, the flatter finale lent itself to a fast finale and the first full bunch sprint finish of the race.
It was a relatively steady start to the action with a five rider breakaway escaping after ten kilometres of racing, and all Team DSM riders in the bunch. The group out front built a lead that reached a maximum of just over three minutes but as the afternoon progressed, they were slowly reeled in by the peloton. Working well as a group, the team moved forward en masse to try and position finisher Nils Eekhoff for the fast gallop to the line. On the rain-soaked and fast run in, the team did well to drop Eekhoff off on the wheels of the other sprint trains, with Tim Naberman acting as last pilot fish.
Eekhoff then followed the riders in front and was poised in a great position inside the last kilometres. However, when going around a roundabout at around 700 metres to go, a few riders slipped out in front of Eekhoff, forcing another rider to unclip who then unfortunately closed the gap between Eekhoff and the barriers, with both riders involved in a crash. Thankfully, Eekhoff was able to get back on his bike OK and complete the stage but a chance of a good result was gone. Mark Donovan and Nicholas Roche hold onto their GC placings in ninth and 11th respectively ahead of tomorrow’s stage.