London - Mathieu van der Poel has regained the overall lead in the Tour of Britain after the Dutchman came sixth in the short stage six individual time-trial in Pershore on Thursday.
Winner of three major one day races this season the 24-year-old double cyclo-cross world champion van der Poel is the bookies favourite to win the men's road race in the UCI world championships in Yorkshire in two weeks time.
Edoardo Affini won the stage in a time of 16 minutes and 40 seconds, seven seconds ahead of Sebastian Langeveld, with Dylan Van Baarle of Team Ineos in third.
But van der Poel, riding for Corendon-Circus, took the overall leader's green jersey from Matteo Trentin after out-pacing his rival by nine seconds over the 14.4km circuit.
"It's a really close battle with Matteo and I think it's going to be a proper fight," van der Poel said with just two stages remaining.
"It was a long time ago when I did a time trial. I'm happy with the result."
Van der Poel holds a six-second lead over Trentin at the top of the overall standings, with another Team Ineos rider, Russia's Pavel Sivakov, a further 18 seconds back in third.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Trentin conceded it is going to be difficult to take the title.
"It's harder and harder every day. I was expecting to lose a bit and six seconds is not the end. Still it's going to be hard to take it back," he said.
Results of the Tour of Britain's six stage on Thursday:
1. Edoardo Affini (ITA/MTS) 16min 39sec, 2. Sebastian Langeveld (NED/EFD) at 7 secs, 3. Dylan van Baarle (NED/Team Ineos) s.t, 4. Luke Durbridge (AUS/MTS) at 8 secs, 5. Tanel Kangert (NED/EFD) at 10 secs
1. Mathieu van der Poel (NED/COC) 21hr 50min 49sec, 2. Matteo Trentin (ITA/MTS) at 6 secs, 3. Pavel Sivakov (RUS/Team Ineos) at 24 secs, 4. Jasper de Buyst (BEL/LTS) at 26 secs, 5. Nils Politt (GER/TKA) at 27 secs