By Peter Hodges

Andre Greipel takes second stage win in Great Yarmouth

Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) takes the stage win into Great Yarmouth

Andre Greipel sprinted to his second stage win of The Tour of Britain, heading Borut Bozic and Lucas Sebastien Haedo across the line.  Greipel’s teammate Michael Albasini continues to hold the race lead, though his advantage was cut by two seconds to 1 minute 26 seconds, as Bozic moved up into second in the overall standings thanks to time bonuses gained during the stage.

Despite losing two members of their six rider team to illness, Team HTC – Columbia still managed to provide Greipel with the perfect leadout, as Mark Renshaw set up the German to take the win in Great Yarmouth.

The longest stage of the race saw The Tour make its first ever visit to Norfolk since its re-birth in 2004, with huge crowds all along the route as local communities and businesses across the county came together to support Britain’s biggest professional cycle race.

After a rousing send off from the crowds gathered in King’s Lynn’s Tuesday Market Place, riders headed out to the north Norfolk coast via the Sandringham Estate, where Johnny Hoogerland took the honours at the intermediate Sprint, ahead of Vacansoleil teammate, and Sprints competition leader, Michal Golas.

Out in front for much of the day was Cameron Meyer, who earned the Honda Combativity Award for his long breakaway, initially in the company of Jeremy Hunt, before the Brit sat up leaving the Garmin – Transitions rider briefly alone.

Meyer was soon joined by Team Saxo Bank’s Jaroslav Marycz out front, with the duo building an eight minute lead as they rode through the Norfolk countryside, being greeted by crowds at every town and village they passed through, with particularly large crowds welcoming The Tour to Norwich midway through the stage.

With Team Sky working hard on the front of the peloton to reduce the deficit as they sought to set up Greg Henderson for a second stage win the gap began to steadily decrease, with just a 2 minute 35 second advantage remaining with 25 kilometres to go.

Fifteen kilometres to go and the advantage was south of one minute, and as they approached Great Yarmouth Meyer opted to go it alone, shedding Marcyz as he made his way into the finish town.  The Australian though was caught inside the final two kilometres, as Team HTC – Columbia came to the front with Bert Grabsch and Mark Renshaw, piloting Greipel through the final couple of corners and safely onto the long finishing boulevard.

The large awaiting crowds at the stage finish in Great Yarmouth

As the field snaked out of the final turn, Greipel burst past Renshaw to cross the line first, taking his second victory at a British seaside resort in six days, after his opening leg win in Blackpool on Saturday.

Speaking after the stage, winner Andre Greipel said that despite the flatness of the profile it was still another tough day in the saddle, describing the stage as “hard!”

“We were not so fresh at all with just four riders left in the race, so it was quite a good powerful beginning to the stage for the team.  We tried to keep the breakaway as small as possible as we were all pretty tired from the last two days.

“We were happy that just two riders were away and we could sit on as the other riders chased the breakaway down.  At the end we were focused on the sprint, and Bert Grabsch and Mark Renshaw gave me a really good position, and quite a good leadout from Mark.  I think we can be really happy with this victory.

“Sky had to chase the breakaway down, so there was no one left to do the leadout, so we were just sitting on and with two kilometres to go we went, and that’s how it was.

Greipel also spoke about the loss of teammates Tony Martin and Marco Pinotti to illness, praising the German, who has worked so hard for race leader Albasini, in particular, saying, “Tony is like a locomotive, once he is riding his bike as fast as possible, he never can stop so this is a really big thing that we lost him.  I hope we are able to defend the jersey until London.”

One of Albasini’s rivals for the Yellow Jersey presented by Bikeability is Team Sky’s Greg Henderson, who took fourth in the finishing sprint, the same position he currently lies in overall, 1 minute 33 seconds behind first place.  Henderson currently wears The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey, as the races’ most consitent finisher, but has his eyes on other prizes too.

“The aim’s the overall in London,” said Henderson after the stage, “And I have to try and get on the podium.  It’s a very important race for us, a home race, and at the moment I’m in fourth place so I’m chasing time bonuses along the road and chasing time bonuses at the finish.  But it’s been a long hard week and it’s taken its toll on not only myself but the whole team, who are riding full gas for me.

With several riders closely bunched behind the race leader, The Tour of Britain is boiling down to an exciting two final stages, but Henderson says that the closeness of the General Classification poses problems.

“They’re not going to let me go anywhere, Columbia mark me, we mark certain people.  There’s a core group of people who can’t go anywhere basically and I can’t slip into a move because they’ll chase me instantly.  Everybody’s on their last legs, so we’ve just got to keep fighting until London.”

Also fighting on for another day was Team Raleigh’s lanterne rouge Peter Smith, who came home in 80th position in a group containing Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas.  Smith now sits in 83rd place, 1 hour 6 minutes and 13 seconds behind the Yellow Jersey.

Stage Seven sees The Tour of Britain visit Suffolk and Essex, heading across the two counties from Bury St Edmunds to Colchester, taking in 152.3 kilometres of racing.  Beginning at Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds, riders will race through Haverhill, Long Melford and Sudbury, on their way into Essex where they will face crucial intermediate Sprints at Braintree and Tiptree before the drag up East Hill in Colchester to the finish line.

Current yellow jersey of The Tour of Britain - Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia)

Stage Six Results

1) Andre Greipel                            Team HTC – Columbia               4:09:05

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling             @ same time

3) Lucas Sebastien Haedo             Team Saxo Bank                       @ same time

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Cameron Meyer       Garmin – Transitions

General Classification standings (after six stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               24h 02m 14s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 26s

3) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 27s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  48pts

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    42pts

3) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               39pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    54pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Dan Martin                                Garmin – Transitions                  32pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after six stages)

1) Michal Golas                             Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    27pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       18pts

3) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    15pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to www.tourride.co.uk to find out more!

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