Edvald Boasson Hagen completed a hat-trick of stage wins in this year's Tour of Britain in Stoke today and in the process moved into the overall lead of the race, the 10 second time bonus for the stage win being enough to give him a 9 second lead over Dutchman Kai Reus of Rabobank.
Boasson Hagen won in Stoke last year and afterwards said that he'd watched the stage finish from a year ago on Youtube to help him prepare for today: it worked. With 5Km to go the day's break was caught, with local rider Dan Fleeman (Cervelo Test Team) amongst its number and it was obvious the sprinters would once again have their day. Columbia's dominance of these things was further enhanced before the stage even started with the news that Bradley Wiggins had withdrawn from the race – reducing the Garmin team to four men and depriving third placed overall Chris Sutton of a valuable part of his sprint train.
As it was Boasson Hagen dropped the hammer with 500m to go, out sprinting the Italian Filippo Pozzato to finish two bike lengths clear at the line.
Even though Boasson Hagen and Columbia look a very powerful proposition, given the close fought nature of the race it is still all to play for. Reus is only nine seconds back, with Sutton on 14 seconds, Martin Reimer on 17 and Russell Downing on 29, with last year's winner Geoffrey Lequatre one second down on him.
On Thursday the Tour of Britain comes to the West Country for the first of two stages before the finale in London. Tomorrow it's a 183.7Km leg stretcher from Frome to Bideford.
Top 20 Tour of Britain Stage 5
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) 3:15:57 2) Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) 3) Russell Downing (Candi TV- Pinarello RT) 4) Aitor Galdos (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 5) Simon Clarke (ISD-Neri) 6) Reinier Honig (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 7) Pierpaolo De Negri (ISD-Neri) 8) Carlo Scognamiglio (Barloworld) 9) Christopher Sutton (Garmin - Slipstream) 10) Mauro Finetto (CSF Group - Navigare) 11) Steven Cummings (Barloworld) 12) Lars Petter Nordhaug (Joker Bianchi) 13) Kristof Vandewalle (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) 14) Michal Golas (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 15) Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) 16) Serge Pauwels (Cervelo Test Team) 17) Arnoud Van Groen (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 18) Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) 19) Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) 20) Huub Duyn (Garmin – Slipstream)
Top 10 on General Classification after Stage 5
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) 18:12:07 2) Kai Reus (Rabobank) 0:00:09 3) Christopher Sutton (Garmin - Slipstream) 0:00:14 4) Martin Reimer (Cervelo Test Team) 0:00:17 5) Russell Downing (Candi TV- Pinarello RT) 0:00:29 6) Simon Clarke (ISD-Neri) 0:00:30 7) Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel ) 8) Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 0:00:32 9) Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 10) Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare) 0:00:34
For full results visit the Tour of Britain website
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.