The North West seems to be almost a spiritual home for Roger Hammond as, for the second year running, it proved to be the venue for another morale boosting home stage win for the GB team.
The racing began almost immediately as the riders left Blackpool with the two leading riders on general classification fighting it out for valuable bonus seconds at the T-Mobile sprint in Pilling. Goss was the victor on that occasion following that up with more valuable bonuses in Southport and Thornton to give himself enough time to take the Yellow Jersey by a single second from overnight leader Pederson.
Whilst all this was happening the Peloton almost seemed to have forgotten that two riders had already escaped the main field, with Davitamon-Lotto's Johan Van Summeren and Bert Roesems slipping away early on and quickly gaining a lead of over 5 minutes.
A number of riders sought to use the climbs over Waddington Fell and the Trough of Bowland to springboard their way up to the leaders, most notably local rider Ben Greenwood who got to within a couple of minutes of the break before sitting up and returning to the main group.
As the riders headed west once again towards the coast a concerted chase spearheaded by Quick-Step and CSC quickly ended the hopes of Van Summeren and Roesems, swallowed up by a pack that could sense the possibility of a bunch finish in Liverpool. Van Summeren at least had the consolation of a visit to the podium at the end of the stage having amassed enough points to take over the lead in the King of the Mountains competition.
As the riders entered the outskirts of Liverpool it was the youthful Great Britain team that led the bunch, seeking to deliver Roger Hammond to the finish at the front of the bunch, sweeping up a late attack by Glasgow GP winner Morkov and Robin Sharman of Recycling.co.uk in the process.
Into the last kilometre and it seemed that the effort from GB had been wasted as riders from Skil and Quick Step took over at the front, however their tenacious efforts ensured that Hammond was able to stay glued to the wheel of Tom Boonen as they entered the final bend.
Through the final bend it seemed that Boonen's lead out had misjudged the severity of the corner and overshot, nearly riding in to the barriers as Hammond slipped through on the inside and leapt up the short rise to the finish to take a hugely popular victory.
1 Roger Hammond (GBr) Great Britain
2 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano
3 Russell Downing (GBr) DFL