Julien conceded the yellow jersey at the end of stage 6, but not without putting in a brave fight.
The most important day of Tour of Britain saw Etixx – Quick-Step come at the front of the peloton as soon as four riders made their way into a break, soon after the flag was dropped. Our team controlled the hostilities and the gap of the quartet, bringing them back before the foot of the final ascent, Haytor (6% over 5.7 kilometers), which was tackled at a fast pace by the bunch, as many riders fought to slot into a good position.
Protected by Tony Martin, who did an amazing job to keep him in the upper part of the peloton, Julien stayed with the best until the final three kilometers, when attacks began to flew from all over the place, sparking a selection. On the tough ramps of Haytor, the 27-year old put in a huge effort to limit the losses as the peloton was whittled down to just a handful of riders, before Wout Poels (Team Sky) powered away to take the win at the top of the ascent.
Vermote, one of the 18 different Etixx – Quick-Step riders to bask in a victory this season, crossed the finish line exhausted, and despite dropping out of the top 10 overall and being now more than a minute behind new GC leader Steven Cummings (Dimension Data), he was satisfied with how he rode on Friday afternoon, on the hard stage which rippled up and down from the start to finish as heavy rain pelted down from the sky.
"The guys did an amazing job, just as in the past days, and I can look back with pride at these four stages which I spent in the yellow jersey. I tried to do my best, but there were too many good climbers in the group and I couldn't hang in there when the pace went up", said Julien, who is 11th in the general classification, just ahead of teammate Dan Martin. "The race isn't over yet and we'll try to do some other nice things over the next two days, so that we conclude this Tour of Britain on a high."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele