Tour of Britain: Mathieu van der Poel regains lead as Edoardo Affini wins sixth stage
Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel regained the Tour of Britain lead as he came sixth on stage six, a 14.4km individual time trial in Worcestershire.
Italian Edoardo Affini won the stage as Van der Poel beat overnight leader Matteo Trentin by nine seconds to take a six-second lead overall.
"It's a really close battle with Matteo and I think it's going to be a proper fight," Van der Poel told ITV Sport.
"It was a long time ago when I did a time trial. I'm happy with the result."
Despite losing the overall lead, Mitchelton-Scott's Trentin believes he still has an outside chance to win the race.
The Italian said: "It's harder and harder every day. I did the best I could but I was expecting to lose a bit and six seconds is not the end, but still it's going to be hard to take it back."
British time trial champion Alex Dowsett was the best home finisher on Friday in seventh, while Ben Swift of Team Ineos is the highest-ranked British rider in the general classification in 13th, 49 seconds behind Van der Poel.
Friday's stage seven - the penultimate stage - is a 188.7km course from Warwick to Burton Dassett Country Park, while the final 166km stage starts in Altrincham and finishes in central Manchester on Saturday.
Tour of Britain stage six result
- Edoardo Affini (Ita/Mitchelton-Scott) 16mins 39secs
- Sebastian Langeveld (Ned/EF Education First Pro Cycling) + 7secs
- Dylan van Baarle (Ned/Team Ineos) + 7secs
- Luke Durbridge (Aus/Mitchelton-Scott) + 8secs
- Tanel Kangert (Ned/EF Education First Pro Cycling) + 10secs
- Mathieu van der Poel (Ned/Corendon-Circus) + 12secs
- Alex Dowsett (GB/Team Katusha-Alpecin) + 13secs
Tour of Britain overall standings after six stages
- Mathieu van der Poel (Ned/Corendon-Circus) 21hrs 50mins 49secs
- Matteo Trentin (Ita/Mitchelton-Scott) + 6secs
- Pavel Sivakov (Rus/Team Ineos) + 24secs
- Jasper de Buyst (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) + 26secs
- Nils Politt (Ger/Team Katusha-Alpecin) + 27secs
- Gianni Moscon (Ita/Team Ineos) + 33secs
- Mike Teunissen (Ned/Team Jumbo-Visma) + 35secs
- Tanel Kangert (Est/EF Education First Pro Cycling) + 36secs
- Andrey Amador (Cos/Movistar Team) + 39secs
- Amund Grondhal Jansen (Nor/Team Jumbo-Visma) + 40secs