Danny van Poppel breaks Jumbo-Visma stranglehold with Tour of Britain stage six victory

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider beat Ethan Vernon in ultra-close photo finish, with Olav Kooij fourth

Danny van Poppel at the 2023 Deutschland Tour 2023, stage four
Van Poppel at the Deutschland Tour, which he hopes will help him in the coming ToB stages
(Image credit: Christoph Koepsel / Getty Images)

Danny van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage six of the Tour of Britain, edging Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) into second place by just a tyre's width in Harlow, Essex.

Van Poppel's victory broke Jumbo-Visma's stranglehold on the race on what was the first day the Dutch team has not won. For Vernon, it was his fourth podium of the race.

Points leader Olav Kooij of Jumbo-Visma, whom many eyes were on for the sprint, finished fourth, while his team-mate Wout Van Aert came in 17th to retain his overall race lead.

"It's tough to beat the Jumbo guys, so it's nice to beat one of the best teams," said Van Poppel afterwards. "Sam [Bennett] is normally the leader but he felt not great, so I took my chances.

"I think my jump was so important," he said of the close finish. "I know I can do it quite well, the timing and everything, and that delivered me the win."

The 30-year-old said that after doing a lot of climbing in the recent Deutschland Tour, he hoped to still be up there in the two remaining hilly stages.

"I hope the shape is still there," he said. "The steep bunch of climbs really suits me, but Ineos Grenadiers with [Tom] Pidcock, they will do everything to drop us. I think it will be a big day tomorrow and the day after."

Beginning in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, stage six's 146.2km parcours took riders on a loop through the county before heading west to finish in Harlow in its far west reaches. With little in the way of elevation and just the one third-category climb to contend with, it always looked as though it would come down to a sprint finish – continuing the theme of this year's race so far.

An early break of three riders morphed into five with around 86km to go. They included British pros Will Tidball and Jack Rootkin-Gray (both Saint Piran), as well as Abram Stockman (TDT-Unibet), who was part of the break yesterday.

They were never given too much breathing space, and with Jumbo-Visma almost effortlessly patrolling the front of the bunch, were caught with 14km to go – their efforts not helped by both Tidball and Stockman puncturing within 10 minutes of each other inside the final 50km.

As the sprinters' teams approached Harlow and prepared to do battle, a low-speed crash on a narrow corner saw Movistar's Fernando Gaviria's race ended with what looked to be a broken collar bone.

That was followed 2km later by a concerted attack by Dimitri Peyskens (Bingoal WB) with 6km to go that threatened to disrupt the sprinters' plans. Jumbo coolly sat back and let Bora-Hansgrohe and Ineos Grenadiers reel him in, perhaps mindful that everyone else had yet to win anything at all, before a chaotic finale that included a fairly major pile-up just before the flamme rouge.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.