Edvald Boasson Hagen won his fourth ever Tour of Britain stage yesterday and today after a 148Km canter in to the Lancashire fells starting and finishing in Blackpool he brought his total up to five and in the process closed to within a second of the overall lead held by Dutchman, Rai Kreus of Rabobank. Yesterday Kreus said he feared Boasson Hagen, today the Norwegian showed us why.
Boasson Hagen took his win in the final gallop for the line, besting Garmin's Chris Sutton and Martin Reimer of Cervelo. Boasson Hagen was expertly lead out by his team mate Tony Martin, he was on Sutton's shoulder as he launched for the line and powered past the big Aussie to take the win. Behind them there was a pile up of riders which resulted in Ian Wilkinson and Vanspeybrouck being taken to hospital.
Up until the final kilometres around Blackpool it looked like the remains of what had become a six man break all of whom had been away for most of a difficult stage climbing up on to the moors might just hold off the main field to secure a notable win. But with 2Km to go the final riders including last year's winner Geoffrey Lequartre were caught by a chasing pack with Garmin most notable at the front driving things on. However no sooner was the catch made than the six men of Columbia HTC moved to supplant the five Garmin men. Sutton's second place was enough to move him up in to the lead in the competition for the points jersey. Afterwards he spoke about the Garmin team's efforts in the final kilometres.
“Brad Wiggins put a lot of confidence in me, because he said you’ll get over these climbs no worries. I had a lot of help and support from all the boys today and they were when I needed them, especially coming up towards the end.
“I put Trent Lowe on the front just to ride hard tempo and then Brad just couldn’t help himself and got on the front at about 60 kilometres per hour. It was pretty much Bradley on his own that closed the gap, but there was Lowe, Tom Peterson and Huub Duyn swopping on and off as well, but Bradley was sitting on the front for five or ten kilometres at a time. I was yelling at him on the radio to drop back and said ‘Mate you’ve gotta save some for the finish’ and he said ‘I’m not even trying hard, I’m picking my nose’! He was really good on the finish as well, all the boys from Garmin – Slipstream were incredible today.”
Although unaffected by the crash, Sutton was certainly aware of it, saying, “I heard the crash, it happened just behind me actually.
“At a kilometre to go we got boxed in and were about twenty back and I yelled at Bradley to go and it just opened up on the right hand side and Brad went straight through and took me to the front. At about 400 metres to go I heard a massive crash right behind me, so it sort of baulked the sprint a little bit.
“Boasson Hagen was on my wheel and I kept looking and looking because I needed to get the jump on him, but when I went I went to open up he just got the jump on me. I should have opened up the sprint earlier, but I just left it too late. Second’s good, but I want another win.”
Tomorrow's stage takes the riders to Stoke on Trent and it is one that has been targetted by both Boasson Hagen and Sutton, so things should be fairly interesting if it comes down to a sprint for the line.
Top 20 Tour of Britain Stage 4
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) 3:32:04 2) Christopher Sutton (Garmin - Slipstream) 3) Martin Reimer (Cervelo Test Team) 4) Russell Downing (Candi TV- Pinarello RT) 5) Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 6) Tony Martin (Team Columbia - HTC) 7) Renaud Dion (AG2R La Mondiale ) 8) Mauro Finetto (CSF Group - Navigare) 9) Graham Briggs (Candi TV- Pinarello RT) 10) Malcolm Elliott (Candi TV- Pinarello RT) 11) Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) 12) Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) 13) Bartozs Huzarsky (ISD-Neri) 14) Kristian House (Rapha Condor) 15) Thomas Lövkvist (Team Columbia - HTC) 16) Ian Stannard (ISD-Neri) 17) Enrico Zen (CSF Group - Navigare) 18) Kristof Vandewalle (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) 19) Christophe Laurent (Agritubel) 20) Serge Pauwels (Cervelo Test Team)
Top 10 on General Classification after Stage 4
1) Kai Reus (Rabobank) 14:56:19 2) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) 0:00:01 3) Christopher Sutton (Garmin - Slipstream) 0:00:05 4) Martin Reimer (Cervelo Test Team) 0:00:11 5) Michele Merlo (Barloworld) 0:00:14 6) Alexander Kristoff (Joker Bianchi) 0:00:19 7) Simon Clarke (ISD-Neri) 0:00:21 8) Reinier Honig (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 0:00:23 9) Rob Ruygh (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) 10) Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel)
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.