Belgium’s Wout van Aert moved to within four seconds of Tour of Britain leader Ethan Hayter after pipping the Briton in a sprint finish to win stage six.
The 198km stage from Carlisle to Gateshead culminated in a three-way sprint between the overall favourites – Van Aert edging Hayter with world champion Julian Alaphilippe in third.
It was Jumbo-Visma rider Van Aert’s third stage win of this year’s Tour.
Ineos Grenadiers rider Hayter said he “was quite happy with second”.
“I was on the limit and to be in a three-up sprint with Van Aert, second is not too bad,” the 22-year-old added.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish was part of a nine-strong breakaway which at one stage had built a four minute advantage, but was chased down before the finish.
The race continues with a 195km stage from Hawick to Edinburgh on Saturday before Sunday’s finale into Aberdeen.
Stage six results
1. Wout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) 4hrs 35mins 56secs
2. Ethan Hayter (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) Same time
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-QuickStep)
4. Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa/Movistar Team)
5. James Shaw (GB/Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling)
6. Michael Woods (Can/Israel Start-up Nation)
7. Daniel Martin (Ire/Israel Start-up Nation)
8. Mikkel Honore (Den/Deceuninck-QuickStep)
9. Matteo Jorgenson (US/Movistar Team) +4 secs
10. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) Same time
1. Ethan Hayter (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) 22hrs 53mins 32secs
2. Wout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) +4 secs
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-QuickStep) +21 secs
4. Mikkel Honore (Den/Deceuninck-QuickStep) +35 secs
5. Michael Woods (Can/Israel Start-up Nation) +54 secs
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus/Ineos Grenadiers) +1 min 8 secs
7. Daniel Martin (Ire/Israel Start-up Nation) +1 min 10 secs
8. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita/Alpecin-Fenix) +1 min 37 secs
9. Mark Donovan (GB/Team DSM)+1 min 58 secs
10. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +2mins 1 sec