Steve Cummings and Michael Rogers finished at the sharp end on stage six at the Tour of Britain while Geraint Thomas suffered following a crash.
A significant split in the peloton on the final climb over Old Bristol Hill saw Cummings and Rogers enhance their bids for a top-10 finish, the former netting a solid fifth place on the day after contesting the sprint.
Thomas however was not so lucky, caught up in an early crash during the first intermediate sprint that brought down a number of riders and saw Ian Bibby (Motorpoint) sustain a fractured collarbone.
The Welshman was able to re-join the bunch after a brief period of neutralisation but was unable to follow as the decisive move went away, finishing in the main group one minute and 24 seconds back on stage winner Lars Boom.
The Rabobank rider took his second win of the event and extended his advantage in the IG Markets gold jersey to 28 seconds in the process with Leopold Konig (NetApp) moving up to second.
Cummings now sits fifth on the general classification, 32 seconds back, while Rogers is knocking on the door of a top-10 finish in 11th. The time loss on the day saw Thomas drop to 12th, 1:49 down, but Team Sky continue to head the overall team standings.
We caught up with Alex Dowsett following the stage for the lowdown on a tough day which saw Thomas hit the deck.
He said: "That certainly wasn’t in the plan. As a team I think we rode really well together. We’ve just been trying to make things as hard as possible for Rabobank and Lars Boom, just by attacking and riding really aggressively which we did.
"It came down to the first intermediate sprint where there was a coming together. G unfortunately ended up on the floor.
"After that we had to pull back a breakaway and we did that enough so Swifty could jump across to it. It was good having him in there so we could relax and rest up a bit.
"When it came to the finish it all split up over the last climb. Steve and Mick got in the lead group with Lars Boom. They are up there on GC so that was good. So Steve’s up to fifth and Mick’s not far behind so hopefully they can maintain that."
The stage got off to a rapid start in Taunton with Team Sky working hard to police the breaks on a day that was seen as one of the last opportunities to impact the race ahead of Sunday’s time trial.
Boom demonstrated his form by taking bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint of the day in Langport which saw a number of casualties including an unlucky Thomas.
Ben Swift was very active and was joined by Paul Voss (Endura), Mark McNally (An-Post) and Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) in an aggressive move as the raced headed north-west towards Cheddar.
That forced Rabobank into a hard chase with the escapees never being allowed a gap in excess of one minute as the terrain began to toughen.
Swift battled hard to remain in the break, yelled on by large crowds at Cheddar Gorge, but slipped back as the remainder of the group held a slender 10 second advantage first time through the finish in Wells.
As expected the race sparked into life on the final climb with a sizable split forming in the bunch on Old Bristol Hill as 21 riders including Boom pushed clear and held on to the finish in Wells.
After the stage we caught up with Sports Director Sean Yates who gave us the latest on Thomas after his scary incident.
“That wasn’t in the plan. G is a bit cut up after his crash but he is okay,” he said.
“He was going for the first sprint at kilometre 12. We knew it was going to be a fast one and they were going for it so not a good time to hit the deck. It was lucky I guess that it wasn’t a lot worse given the speed. When you hit the ground going almost 70k an hour you can do a lot of damage.
“But obviously that hindered him for the rest of the stage. Ben got in that breakaway and, Rabobank chased hard building up towards the final.
“G couldn’t quite hang on over the climb and that was that. It’s unfortunate but that’s life.”
The team will now look to take a stage win and help put Cummings in a position to move further up the general classification.
Yates added: “Mick and Steve got over in the front split. We’ve seen that Lars Boom is flying and he’s proved that again with this win.
“We wanted to win and it was going to plan. It would have been tough to dislodge Boom but we would have given it a good go. Steve is up there in the GC and I’m sure he can climb further up.”