Sir Bradley Wiggins survived the most serious challenge to his hopes of victory at the Tour of Britain as Simon Yates triumphed in the race’s first summit finish in Devon.
Yates, the 21-year-old from Bury representing Great Britain, won the 137-kilometre sixth stage from Sidmouth to the top of Haytor on Dartmoor and now sits one minute six seconds behind in third in the general classification, with Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) 32 seconds behind gold-jersey holder Wiggins.
Wiggins now heads for today’s stage in Surrey and tomorrow’s London finale on course to take his first stage race victory since the 2012 Tour de France.
As Wiggins recovers former glories, showing strong form ahead of the Road World Championships time-trial next Wednesday, the race also showed Britain has a bright future in Yates, who, in February, won the points race world title on the track.
The British Cycling academy rider won two stages of the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir recently and has been linked with a first professional contract at Team Sky.
He once again showed his potential by bursting clear of an elite group, which included Wiggins, 2013 Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana and Tour stage winner Dan Martin, in the latter stages to win by two seconds from Elmiger.
“It’s one of my best victories,” Yates said.
“To win a stage of your national tour in that company, you can’t get much better. I know I have a good kick but I didn’t really believe until we got closer to the line.”
Meanwhile, Wiggins and fellow Tour de France champion Chris Froome will team up for Great Britain at the UCI Road World Championships in Italy next week.
Wiggins, the 2012 Tour champion and leader of the Tour of Britain with two days remaining, will prioritise next Wednesday’s time-trial before supporting 2013 Tour winner Froome’s bid for the rainbow jersey in the road race on 29 September.
The confirmed selection on Friday means the Team Sky colleagues will ride in the same squad since for the first time since the Tour of Oman in February.
Also in the men’s team is 2011 world champion Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, Ian Stannard, Josh Edmondson and Steve Cummings.
Cavendish and Cummings, who ride for Omega Pharma-QuickStep and BMC Racing respectively, are the only non-Team Sky riders in the road race squad, while Movistar’s Alex Dowsett will, like Wiggins, ride in the time-trial.
The women’s squad is led by Lizzie Armitstead, the Olympic silver medallist, and includes two-time junior world champion Lucy Garner as well as Katie Colclough and Nikki Harris.
Emma Pooley has declined her place on the squad to focus on her PhD studies – a decision supported by British Cycling – and Britain will not be represented in the women’s time-trial.
British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford said: “Looking at the men’s road race team, we have real strength and depth in the team, and it’s a real boost for us to have two Tour de France winners in there along with high-calibre support from the likes of Cav, Geraint, Steve and Ian.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what Lizzie can do out on the Worlds course given her great form at the minute, and I’m confident that Lucy, Katie and Nikki can give her the support she needs.
“Overall, the whole team is really looking forward to getting stuck in to the racing out in Italy, and we’ve got some great opportunities across the board.”
• Men’s elite road race : Mark Cavendish, Steve Cummings, Josh Edmondson, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, Bradley Wiggins.
• Men’s elite time-trial: Alex Dowsett, Wiggins.
• Women’s elite road race: Lizzie Armitstead, Katie Colclough, Nikki Harris, Lucy Garner.