By Nick Bull
Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) took his second breakaway victory in two days at the 2014 Tour of Britain as Alex Dowsett (Movistar) catapulted himself into the race leader's yellow jersey in Hemel Hempstead.
Despite a breathless chase from the peloton, led by overnight leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), the gap at the finish of stage six was enough for Dowsett, second on the stage, to head straight to the top of the overall GC.
Tom Stewart (Madison-Genesis) had a fine ride to take third on the stage.
Following his disappointment on stage four, when a double puncture scuppered his place in the breakaway, Dowsett now finds himself in pole position to take his home tour when it concludes on Sunday in London.
He now leads the overall classification from the Polish rider by 34 seconds. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finished in the bunch to remain seventh overall.
The stage, the second longest in this year's race, was frantic. After Alex Peters (Madison-Genesis) and Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) were caught after an early breakaway attempt, the peloton split significantly. Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) and Steve Cummings (BMC) were among those who missed the move.
Yellow jersey Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took the first sprint points - and bonus seconds - ahead of Bradley Wiggins and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) in Devizes, before the potentially race-winning move formed.
A lull in the peloton's pace allowed the second group to come back together, but this also helped the leaders quickly amass a large advantage.
They led by nearly 10 minutes at one point, and had over eight minutes in hand with 60 kilometres remaining.
But Omega Pharma, Sky and BMC all contributed to the chase, which saw the leaders' advantage eroded quickly. Thirty kilometres from Hemel Hempstead, the gap was just 4-33.
However inside the final hour the bunch failed to take much time away from the leading trio, which in Dowsett and Brandle featured two strong time triallists.
A domestic rider is yet to take a stage win at the modern Tour of Britain, and Brandle easily dispatched Tom Stewart (Madison-Genesis) in the sprint. But for Dowsett it was all about the time on the peloton.
Friends Life Tour of Britain 2014, stage six: Bath to Hemel Hempstead, 205.6km
1. Matthias Brandle (IAM) in 4-44-49
2. Alex Dowsett (Movistar)
3. Tom Stewart (Madison-Genesis) all at 1 second
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) at 1-51
5. Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF)
6. Ben Swift (Sky)
7. Martin Kohler (BMC)
8. Heinrich Haussler (IAM)
9. Rick Zabel (BMC)
10. Tom Veelers (Giant-Shimano) all at s.t.
Overall classification after stage six
1. Alex Dowsett (Movistar) in 25-07-53
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) at 34 secs
3. Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) at 40 secs
4. Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) at 50 secs
5. Dylan Teuns (BMC) at 51 secs
6. Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) at 1-00
7. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at 1-02
8. Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) at 1-06
9. Sebastian Reichenbach (IAM) at s.t.
10. Matthias Brandle (IAM) at 1-07
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