Briton Bradley Wiggins could not hold onto his lead in the Six Days of Dunkirk today. In a race run off in atrocious weather conditions – only slightly less windy than on Tuesday and with torrential rainstorms all day – Wiggins was reported to have lost contact with the first chase group around 70 kilometres from the finish.

The stage win went to Pole Piotr Zielinkski (Bretagne-Armor Lux), part of a two-man day-long break. The race lead went to the other rider in the break, Frenchman David Boucher of the Landboukrediet squad.

Zielinski and Boucher attacked early on in the 190.8 kilometre stage from Dunkirk to the Saint-Amand-les-Eaux – an appropriately named finish for such a rainsoaked day – and built up an impressive lead of nearly 18 minutes.

Behind, meanwhile, T-Mobile?s Mark Cavendish took third in two hot spot sprints. After the peloton upped the pace – and splitting in several groups in the process – the breakaway duo came within a whisker of being caught, with Cavendish taking third in the first chasing group of some 40 riders at the finish.

Thursday?s stage is a 185 kilometre run from Saint-Amand-les-Eaux to Caudry.