Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) may have won the 2017 Tour of Britain but the final stage of the race was far from a procession for the Dutchman. As with the penultimate stage from Hemel Hempstead to Cheltenham, the 2011 race winner had come under attack all stage long, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and Stefan Küng (BMC) two of the most aggressive riders of the day.
Before the stage, Küng, a third-year pro from Switzerland, lay second overall, eight seconds down on Boom, while the best sprinter of the trio, Boasson Hagen, was 20 seconds back in eighth. With three intermediate sprints and the finish adding up to 19 bonus seconds available on the stage, there was a real possibility that the green leader's jersey would be on another rider's shoulders in Cardiff.
In the end it wasn't to be, with Boom holding on to restrict Boasson Hagen and Küng to the lesser podium spots, and they finished eight and nine seconds back, respectively. It wasn't for lack of trying, though, on the part of either man.
"It was really hard in the beginning and I managed to be in the front over the first GPM [climb]. It was a good group and Sky was riding hard in front," said Boasson Hagen of the day's decisive split. "I expected it to be a small group and for someone to control it but it was a big group. I managed to pick up some bonus seconds during the day so it was good.
"If you don't try, you don't win anything so I just wanted to try and move up as much as possible. Of course, it would've been nice to win but I didn't and anyway I managed to get second place so that's really nice."
While Boasson Hagen could count on his strong sprint to gain precious seconds, Küng had a harder task. His strong GC standing was thanks to his performance on the stage 5 time trial, and after the stage he admitted racing for intermediate sprints didn't suit his style.
"I'm not a pure sprinter; normally I never do that kind of stuff. But yeah I tried," Küng said. "Unfortunately if the stage had been vice-versa it would've been better for me, with the climbs at the end, but I tried my best.
"After the last intermediate sprint I told myself 'if Eddy wins now then we really stop hoping' and that's what he did. He was really on a good day. Lars as well - I mean they really neutralised each other, but yeah it's nice to be on the podium at the end.”
Küng came close in the Clacton time trial, finishing eight seconds behind Boom. The BMC man was pleased with his time trial, but said it could have gone better.
"It was good but not perfect. I think I could've done better but in the end that's how it is. After the time trial it was kind of obvious that it was going to come down to bonus seconds so I always tried to be up there in the intermediate sprints. I know I'm ready for the Worlds [time trial] and that's the most important thing."