Welcome to live coverage of stage 6 of the BinckBank Tour.
Good afternoon and welcome to coverage of the penultimate stage of the BinckBank Tour.
Today is a big day of racing for the GC hopefuls with a relentless amount of climbing over the longest stage of the race. With 120km remaining, a group of six riders holds a four-minute advantage over the peloton behind.
At the head of affairs are Tony Martin, Teo Geoghegan Hart, Dylan van Baarle, Rory Sutherland, Alexis Gougeard and Pieter Weening.
It took quite some time for the breakaway to come together with a very fast start to the day. It wasn't until after 50 kilometres that it began to form. Here is a shot of the breakaway soon after they got together. You can see that the weather is not particularly nice out there.
The advantage of the breakaway continues to go out and the sextet now has 5:10 on the peloton.
Lars Boom is the race leader today after winning yesterday's stage. He got himself into a little bit of trouble with the gesture he made as he crossed the line. He was fined 1,000 CHF for his troubles. Read the full story here.
Boom will be thankful that it was only a monetary punishment and not a time one as his lead is a slim one. He sits just two seconds ahead of Peter Sagan in the overall standings.
1 Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 15:23:17
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:02
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb 0:00:08
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:19
5 Jasha Sutterlin (Ger) Movistar Team 0:00:27
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:29
8 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:32
9 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott 0:00:35
10 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:36
@BinckBankTour Sat, 12th Aug 2017 11:52:33
BMC reporting that Miles Scotson has had to abandon the race due to illness.
Away from the BinckBank Tour, we have been talking about Alberto Contador's impending retirement. Contador announced earlier this month that he would call time on his career after the Vuelta a Espana. Listen to the podcast here.
@LottoJumbo_road Sat, 12th Aug 2017 12:00:37
It's unlikely that this break will be allowed to go the full distance, certainly not in its current make-up. Alexis Gougeard is the best placed in the overall classification just 1:08 behind behind the leader Boom. Van Baarle and Martin are not too far behind that either at 1:23 and 1:26 respectively.
With aronud 80 kilometres remaining, the gap has dropped drastically to just four minutes after extending past the 5-minute mark a little earlier.
Courtesy of the organisers, here is a look at the finish today. It's a slight uphill drag that's begging for a Peter Sagan victory, if he fancies it that is.
Should Peter Sagan manage the win today, it would be the 100th victory of his career.
The BinckBank Tour is of course not the only racing this weekend. There's the Arctic Race of Norway and the Tour de l'Ain. The women's peloton is also racing the Crescent Vargarda WorldTour event tomorrow. Marianne Vos will be showing off her new European champion's kit for the first time. Take a look at the kit here and let us know what you think.
Tony Martin has crashed in the breakaway group. He's up and back on his way again though.
Marcel Kittel has abandoned the BinckBank Tour. It has not been a particularly successful race for the German.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Sat, 12th Aug 2017 12:30:32
62km remaining from 203km
Andre Greipel on the front of the peloton at the moment with two other teammates behind him. Greipel has been playing a very good team role throughout this race and he's doing some damage to the advantage of the leaders. They have just 3:36.
It has been raining throughout today's stage and there have been quite a few punctures to deal with. Sep Vanmarcke is the latest victim. He doesn't bother with changing the wheel, he just gets a completely new bike.
Gougeard tries to store a few gels in his back pocket. He comes a cropper as he tries to undo his gilet and drops a few. He goes back to the car to pick up some more sustenance.
The other Lotto team comes to the front with LottoNL-Jumbo sending a rider to the font of the bunch. They must not have been happy with the speed that this break was coming down. With 58km to go, the gap is still 3:12.
Lars Boom is tucked well into the peloton behind a line of BMC riders. It's hard to pick him out from his teammates as his green leader's jersey is hidden by a team gilet. The sponsors won't be too happy with that one, but what can you do?
Defending champion Niki Terpstra is at the back of the peloton after getting some sustenance from the team car. Terpstra is 1:11 behind Boom in the overall standings at the moment.
As the gap drops to less than three minutes, there are a few more teams showing interest near the front of the bunch. Team Sunweb, Bora-Hansgrohe and BMC Racing are all moving up. Andre Greipel is back on the front doing the only thing he knows how, laying down the power.
49km remaining from 203km
It looks like the rain is falling heavier out there and the riders are having to deal with a lot of spray being kicked up from the riders ahead. The breakaway is picking its way around corners too, not taking any risks.
Lars Boom has given up with his team issue gilet and opted for a see-through one making his leader's green jersey visible. He makes it back in the peloton and can sit up and close it to stop it flapping in the wind like a sail.
The pace is really increasing in the peloton and lots of riders have been dropped off the back. Jasper Stuyven had a tumble with some of his teammates on a short descent.
@TrekSegafredo Sat, 12th Aug 2017 13:10:03
It really is torrid out there as Team Sunweb push on at the front of the bunch. They've brought the gap down to 1:40 and it looks like it won't be too long before these leaders are brought back. Meanwhile, one of the BMC riders gets nudged into the grass on the side of the road. He remains upright and gets back into the bunch.
The final part of this stage is relentlessly up and down and the peloton is being reduced drastically. The riders will soon face the Cote de Saint Roch, a climb known for being part of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege route.
37km remaining from 203km
Tao Geoghegan Hart has a little dig in the breakaway and takes Martin and Gourgeard with him. Van Baarle, Sutherland and Weening have to work hard to close the gap. They've only got 1:15 on the bunch now and the cars are being brought out of the gap.
Team Sunweb continue to set the pace as they work for Tom Dumoulin. The Dutchman is just eight seconds down on Boom in the overall standings. BMC and LottoNL-Jumbo moving to the front and getting ready for the climb-heavy finishing circuit.
We see Quick-Step Floors on the front for the first time today. They'll be working for Philippe Gilbert today. He's from not too far away and will know these climbs pretty well. He's a big contender for the victory today.
The leaders cross the line for the first time as they begin this loop with the ascent of the Cote de Saint Roch. Pieter Weening pushes on.
Geoghegan Hart and Sutherland are with Weening, while Tony Martin has been brought back by the peloton. Teisj Benoot begins to light things up.
29km remaining from 203km
The breakaway has been brought back as things start to break-up in the peloton. Benoot's injection of pace has done a lot of damage and he's taken around 10 riders with him.
Peter Sagan, Tom Dumoulin and Tim Wellens are among the riders in that front group. Another small group of riders is trying to make their way over.
26km remaining from 203km
Having been caught a little earlier, Geoghegan Hart has attacked again, but he's not making much ground, Meanwhile, Sep Vanmarcke has been dropped and is trying to get back in touch.
Naesen is the next rider to have a go. He's got a few bike's lengths but it's not much.
Naesen taking some serious risks to try and take an advantage and he almost over-cooks a corner. He's ok and the peloton is much more cautious around it so he does actually gain some ground. He's got 8 seconds on the main group, while the Vanmarcke group is 20 seconds behind him.
The golden kilometre is coming up as the riders tackle a brutish ascent with Van Avermaet and Sagan leading the chase behind.
Sagan soars past Naesen as if he is standing still and he takes Wellens with him. The peloton in bits. No sight of the race leader Boom.
Looks like a mechanical problem for Sagan. He's on the radio and he sits up and looks over hit shoulder. He looks very annoyed as he is forced to let Tim Wellens go alone.
There are no team cars on this climb, it's way too narrow. He's having to ride on what looks like a flat and he almost comes off on a corner. That is a big blow for Sagan, who is going to have a tough job staying in the GC hunt.
Wellens is pushing on but Dumoulin is chasing him hard. There are bonus seconds available in this golden kilometre, which could be crucial in the GC.
Wellens takes the first one with Dumoulin in second and Van Avermaet in third. Dumoulin kicks again and catches Wellens while Van Avermaet is dropped back to the second group.
Sagan finally gets his hands on a new wheel and he's back on his way, but he's lost a lot of time as he waited for that replacement. He's got 20 kilometres to make it back to the front. Losing out on those bonus seconds will not help him in his GC hunt.
Sagan is now back with the Vanmarcke group at the moment, but he's not getting any help in the chase.
19km remaining from 203km
Gilbert is also in that group with Sagan and he seems keen now to pitch in with the help. They're over a minute behind the leading duo of Wellens and Dumoulin.
The second group on the road, which has Van Avermaet, Stuyven, Naesen, Benoot and Valgren is just 13 seconds behind the two leaders. The gap is coming down and the catch looks likely now.
Unsuprisingly, Benoot is sitting on the back of that chasing group. He's getting a free ride back to the leading group.
15km remaining from 203km
We get a sight of Boom in the same group as Sagan. He's obviously feeling it today as he sits up and has a little stretch. There seems to be little cohesion in that group, although they are slowly but surely coming back.
Sagan has got frustrated and moves to the front to set the chase himself. The gap between Sagan and the leading duo is 52 seconds while the second group on the road is 12 seconds.
Sagan attacks and he makes it to a group of flagging riders that includes Bakelants, Vakoc and Sutterlin. He is fighting to save his race. He is also having a lengthy discussion with Sutterlin before moving to the front of that group.
The two leaders can see the chasers behind them and Tim Wellens puts in a little dig to try and increase the distance. Van Avermaet is setting the pace on the front with the help of Stuyven.
12km remaining from 203km
That little dig from Wellens has increased the buffer to 20 seconds. This pair could just do it.
Meanwhile, Sagan had brought the gap down to 45 seconds but he's fed up of getting no help and he's sat up. The gap is now 1:11 to the leaders.
10km remaining from 203km
Dumoulin has the advantage in terms of the general classification. He was 11 seconds ahead of Wellens at the start of the day, although Wellens has closed that gap with the help of the golden kilometre.
Dumoulin and Wellens are now putting time into the chasers. They've pushed their advantage up to 25 seconds with just over eight kilometres to go.
The riders are on a short descent. The road has dried in patches but they'll have to be careful of a few patches of standing water.
6km remaining from 203km
Sagan is now 1:28 back on the two leaders. He is not getting any help, least of all from the race leader Boom.
Sagan gives a very sarcastic thumbs up to the camera. He's now on the back of that third group and generally not very happy with the situation. It's understandable. He was in a very good position until that puncture.
4km remaining from 203km
Wellens and Dumoulin working very well together at the moment. Wellens appears to be doing the lion's share of the work and he's holding this chasing group at 23 seconds.
Benoot continues to hang onto the back of this chasing group. Lotto Soudal is sitting pretty in this situation with two riders in a good position. With 22 seconds between the groups it's very close but it looks like Wellens and Dumoulin will make it work.
Dumoulin now setting the pace in this lead group, but it's not long until Wellens moves back up. Wellens is doing so much work he might be hindering his chances of a win.
Wellens has the faster sprint, but if he goes too deep then Dumoulin might be able to get one over on him.
Flamme rouge for the two leaders
Dumoulin moves to the front and ups the pace. This is a bit of a chase game between these two.
Wellens keeping a watchful eye on Dumoulin as the road heads upwards.
Wellens leads the drive for the line and holds off Dumoulin.
Stuyven beats Van Avermaet to take third.
Dumoulin just didn't have enough to get around Wellens in that sprint to the line. He should have the overall victory though.
Confirmation of the general classification shows that Dumoulin leads Wellens by four seconds, with Van Avermaet in third place at 46 seconds back.
@TrekSegafredo Sat, 12th Aug 2017 14:18:11
This is how it finished today
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5:04:36
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
3 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:17
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:20
7 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:42
9 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
And this is what that stage did to the overall classification, note that Sagan has dropped out of the top 10.
1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 20:27:49
2 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:04
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:46
4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:52
5 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:02
6 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:09
7 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac 0:02:22
8 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:28
9 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 0:02:40
10 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:03:15
New race leader Tom Dumoulin had this to say after the stage:
“I had the choice out there – not riding, or giving it everything and hoping Tim didn't drop me, and luckily I could just hang on at the end. We have a strong team here and I’m really happy with that, for two days we’ve made the race. We have to play it well tactically and defend tomorrow, and hope that four seconds is enough. It will be a battle.”
@Lotto_Soudal Sat, 12th Aug 2017 14:51:51
That is it for our live coverage today, we'll see you again tomorrow for the final stage. Click here for the results, photos and report from today's stage.
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