One of Britain's top cycling prospects, Simon Yates, riding for Great Britain, today won the summit finish on Haytor on Dartmoor of Stage 6 of the 2013 Tour of Britain, while the man many would argue is the most successful rider the country has produced - Sir Bradley Wiggins, winner of Olympic gold medals on the road and track, and the first Briton to win the Tour de France - finished 7 seconds back to take a big step towards securing the overall victory in London on Sunday.
IAM’s Martin Elmiger finished second today, picking up 6 bonus seconds to move above Team Sky’s Ian Stannard to second overall and now lies 32 seconds behind Wiggins.
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage features a punchy climb to the finish in Guildford - 12 months ago, Mark Cavendish took his final win in the rainbow jersey of world champion there - while Sunday’s closing stage is almost certain to finish in a bunch sprin.
Having successfully negotiated the most taxing climbs of the toughest edition of the race yet, Wiggins is therefore very much in control of the destiny of the IG gold jersey of race leader.
Yates, who burst onto the scene at the UCI World Track Championships in Minsk in March and also won two stages in August’s Tour de l’Avenir, now lies third overall, 1 minute 6 seconds behind Wiggins and 2 seconds ahead of another Team Sky rider, David Lopez, who finished third today.
The day’s stage, covering 137km from Sidmouth, to a large extent followed what has become a tried and tested script in recent days; a small break formed, mountains classification leader Angel Madrazo of Movistar was in it, and it Team Sky kept it in check before of reeling it in ahead of the finale.
With Madrazo all but clinching the mountains jersey after leading the race over the Category 2 ascent of 6 Mile Hill, crested with 20km remaining, Sky still had to be vigilant, however, and it was Wiggins himself who had to close down an attack from Movistar’s Nairo Quintana on the final climb.
Heading towards the top of the climb, the front group had been reduced to just nine riders, Elmiger attacking and Lopez going after him but it was Yates who passed both to take the win.
Followinghis victory, Yates - whose twin brother Adam is also in the Great Britain team for the race and finished 14th today - said: "From my position I couldn't really dictate anything so I had to wait and wait and wait.
"Slowly, slowly people were slipping off the back and the attacks from Quintana and Dan Martin and such whittled it down so I could enjoy the moment as we came to the line.”
Wiggins, two days away from sealing an overall victory and succeeding Team Sky colleague Jonathan Tiernan Locke, winner last year when still with Eundura Racing, said: "It was actually pretty good, it was a short stage with good weather.
"We seemed to be in control most of the day and then it pretty much all came down to the final climb really. The team took the strain and then it was just a case of time trialling to the top for me really.”
He confessed that it had crossed his mind to aim for the win today, but added: "I did at one point but then I decided not to be too greedy and just focus on the jersey more than anything really.
"I should have won yesterday really thinking about it, but again the priority is always the GC when you're in the jersey.”
The race leader went on: "I think these were the two stages really where you expected there to be a difference," but added that race director Mick Bennett "just said to me 'I wouldn't underestimate tomorrow,'
"Tomorrow's another tough day, it was a sprint last year, but nothing has really challenged us so far to the point of us losing the race,” Wiggins concluded.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.