photo credits @ ToB
BORA – hansgrohe’s Danny van Poppel ended Jumbo – Visma’s dominance of the Tour of Britain 2023 as he sprinted to win stage six in Harlow on Friday by the narrowest of margins.
A year to the day since the German team’s last victory in the UK’s leading cycle race, courtesy of Jordi Meeus in Mansfield, van Poppel timed his kick perfectly to pip British rider Ethan Vernon a tyre-width along Third Avenue. Tord Gudmestad (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) finished third, with four-time stage winner Olav Kooij in fourth.
Although their 100% record in the race ended in the Essex town, Jumbo – Visma’s Wout van Aert crossed the line in 17th place to retain the overall lead
Van Poppel avoided several late crashes inside the final 20km and then came from behind in a messy and chaotic sprint after Jumbo-Visma saw their train hijacked by several rival teams in the closing stages. The Dutch team had won five straight stages in the race, with Van Poppel becoming the first non-Jumbo rider to raise his arms in victory during this year’s race.
Race leader and winner of the first four stages, Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) was forced to settle for fourth in the sprint after seeing his team jostled out of position at several points in the closing stages. Wout van Aert did his best to lead his young teammate out with 300m to go but with Vernon swarming and Van Poppel finding a late gap inside the last 100m Kooij never quite found his rhythm.
“I feel great. I’m happy to win here. It’s tough to beat the Jumbo guys, so it’s nice to beat one of the best teams and the best sprinters,” Van Poppel said at the finish.
“First of all Sam Bennett was the leader but he didn’t feel great so I took my chances. I thought it was really close but my jump was so important. I know I can do it quite well and I think that delivered me the win.”
The early stage of the race had seen a five-rider move clear with around 86km to go. The quintet of Danny van der Tuuk (Equipo Kern Pharma) Jack Rootkin-Gray (Saint Piran), William Tidball (Saint Piran), Abram Stockman (TDT-Unibet Cycling Team) and Hartthijs de Vries (TDT-Unibet Cycling Team).
The break established a lead of over a minute but when Jumbo-Visma lifted the pace on the front of the peloton the gap began to crumble inside the final 65km.
With 38km to go the break had been reduced to three, with the TDT-Unibet Cycling Team pair and Rootkin-Gray still out front. Rootkin-Gray had to sit up after a mechanical and inside the final 15km the break was caught.
A crash took down Fernando Gaviria (Movistar Team) with a suspected broken collar bone, before Dimitri Peyskens (Bingoal WB) threw in a late attack.
Once the move was caught Ineos Grenadiers and Uno-X set about controlling the peloton before another major crash inside the last 2km reduced the front of the race to less than 25 riders. Jumbo-Visma looked disjointed as riders infiltrated their leadout and in such a chaotic finale it was Van Poppel who seized the moment.
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