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Complete Live Report
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Eneco Tour. Stage 6 is the longest of the race at 208.6 kilometres and sees the riders cross back from the Netherlands intto Belgium.
- 85km remaining from 207.5km
As we pick up the action, the riders have covered just over 120 kilometres of what is another tough day in the saddle. There are five riders out front with an advantage of just over four minutes. They are Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin), Sébastien Turgot (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
This stage, as has been the case in previous editions, takes inspiration from the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic, covering hilly terrain in the Ardennes. La Redoute was a stage finish in the previous two years but, mercifully for the riders, will not feature today. Still, there's the Côte Saint-Roche, with an average gradient of 11 per cent, to be tackled twice today.
A reminder of how the GC looks after yesterday's stage:
1 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 16:44:13
2 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Cannondale - Garmin 0:00:01
3 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ 0:00:08
4 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:13
5 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:19
6 Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:00:20
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:26
8 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:29
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:34
- 76km remaining from 207.5km
With Kelderman leading the race, LottoNL-Jumbo can be seen on the front of the bunch, though they're rolling at a very gentle pace at the moment. We're quite far behind the time schedule at the moment.
The leaders are descending into town and will soon be crossing the finish line for the first time. Shortly afterwards they'll be taking on the Côte Saint-Roche for the first time.
Baugnies looks the strongest of the break on this climb, which is just under 1 kilometre long with a gradient of 11 per cent. He gets a small gap but with so much road still ahead the break will all want to keep together for the time being.
Andrey Amador has attacked from the bunch and things are really shaking up back there.
- 66km remaining from 207.5km
Meanwhile, Baugnies has indeed made a bid for freedom and is now alone at the front of the race with a small gap over the other four.
Things come back together at the front but it's a different story in the bunch, where the race is well and truly on. There are two Astana riders, one of them Grivko, forcing the issue, with a group of seven now clear and lots of riders trying to move across behind.
The group of eight that has gone off the front of the peloton contains Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Chris Juul Jenson (Tinkoff-Saxo), Andriy Grivko and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), David Tanner (IAM), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Jan Bakelants (Ag2r).
- 57km remaining from 207.5km
That move represents some early fireworks in the peloton. The eight riders have opened up a gap of half a minute on the peloton behind. They are now just under 1:30 down on the leaders.
LottoNL lead the peloton but they've got their work cut out today. All of the riders in this counter attack are a threat on Kelderman's GC lead, with the exception of Tanner. The best-placed is Van Avermaet at just 26 seconds back.
The leaders go through the finish line for the second time and embark on the last two laps, these two different and longer than the first.
As the other riders come through the line and onto the climb again, the counter attackers have seen their advantage shredded, thanks to LottoNL and Etixx.
Things come back together in the peloton. Kelderman has got himself back on terms but his teammates have paid the price for their efforts. The race leader is alone in a group that is more of a select bunch than a peloton.
Up front there are now just three leaders as Turgot drops back to help Bakelants and Poland drops back too. Their lead is under half a minute.
The break has been caught on a sharp climb and it's all together at the front of the race. Things have been shaken up considerably, though, and we now have a group of about 10 in the lead. Race leader Kelderman is in there.
- 48km remaining from 207.5km
Grivko goes on the attack now. Things have blown up early today - we've still got 48 kilometres to go.
The leading group has been joined by a group behind, which includes Philippe Gilbert (BMC). There are 19 riders out front.
Brandle goes off the front now! There is absolutely no respite here.
The leaders are on the short climb of the Côte d'Achouffe (definitely recommend the beer), and Brandle has a gap of 15 seconds. Those in the main group behind can be seen in the 'situation' column to the right of your screen.
Van Avermaet is not going to be happy with things settling down. He goes on the attack and Brandle is soon caught.
And now Geschke goes! Van Avermaet doesn't want to chase on his own this time, and Lutsenko and Juul Jenson set off in pursuit. Geschke is over eight minutes down on GC but there's plenty here who are hungry for the stage win.
After holding off for so long, the rain is well and truly back. We're not talking about the drenched conditions of yesterday but it's coming down pretty hard now and there's spray coming up off the wheels as the riders head downhill.
Mick Rogers has joined Geschke up front and they have a gap of about 15 seconds over the group behind.
The riders come through the finishing line for one last lap and Kelderman has been distanced. There is a small split in the group behind the two leaders and the race leader is fighting to close it.
It's heating up once again on the Côte Saint-Roche. Wellens is closing the gap on the leading duo and has several riders with him. Kelderman is in big big trouble though.
Wellens catches the leaders and passes them both! We're not far away now from the golden kilometre.
Bakelants has lost contact with the main group having misjudged a descent in the wet.
- 21km remaining from 207.5km
Wellens has opened up a significant gap here. He was fifth on GC at the start of the day, 19 seconds down on Kelderman. There a 9 seconds beckoning across this golden kilometre.
Van Avermaet catches Geschke and sets off on his own now in pursuit of Wellens. If he goes through the three intermediate sprints in this golden kilometre in second, then he'll pick up a total of 6 seconds.
Wellens picks up the maximum 9 bonus seconds. Van Avermaet takes 6 for himself. Wellens is the virtual race leader but Kelderman has shown some pretty impressive resilience to keep himself hanging in the main group.
On a downhill stretch Wellens extends his lead out to over half a minute. It doesn't look like Van Avermaet has what it takes here. Who's going to attack from the main group now?
There's no real urgency in the main group and it looks like Wellens is riding to victory here. The Belgian won the corresponding stage of the race last year, pulling on the leader's jersey, and it looks like he'll do the same today. You can read how he secured his win last year right here.
10 kilometres to go for Wellens but there are now real climbs left for him now. He'll soon be heading downhill and unless something remarkable happens behind he's heading for the win.
Geschke has gone after Van Avermaet and joins up with him, while Bakelants and Slagter also attack from the Kelderman group.
Just 5 kilometres to go now for Wellens as he enjoys a brief spell in the slipstream of a moto. The Belgian defended his lead on the final day last year - his attentions will turn to doing the same tomorrow, but they'll be in the tough terrain of Flanders.
Wellens stretches his lead out to 53 seconds. Behind him Van Avermaet is concerned about the time he's losing, and rightly so.
Wellens comes into town and under the flamme rouge, soon to soak up the adoration of his home crowds, though many seem to have headed inside into the dry.
Wellens raises his arms and wins stage 6 of the Eneco Tour!
Van Avermaet opens up the sprint for second and takes it. Geschke was no match for him and takes third.
Bakelants and Slagter are next across the line, shortly followed by the Kelderman group. We'll get time gaps to you shortly, but what's certain is that Wellens is the new race leader.
Here's the top 10 on today's stage:
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 05:28:46
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:49
3 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:51
4 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 00:01:03
5 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 00:01:07
6 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:01:13
7 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
9 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
And here's how the General classification now looks:
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 22:12:59
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:01:03
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:01:17
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:01:40
5 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 00:01:48
6 Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:01:51
7 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 00:01:54
8 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:02:05
9 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:02:13
10 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
Here's our brief report of the stage, soon to be fleshed out with a full account of the day's events along with lots of photos.
Thanks for joining us today - we're still getting our breath back from a frenetic day's racing. Tomorrow it's into Flanders and up the cobbled climbs. Can Wellens defend his lead? Join us again tomorrow to find out.