Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen won stage 6 of the 2011 Tour de France on Thursday, a 226.5km race from Dinan to Lisieux along the coast of Normandy. It was the first Tour stage win for the 24 year old and the first stage win for Team Sky.
Boasson Hagen outkicked HTC’s Matthew Goss and race leader Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), to win this year’s longest stage.
Hushovd was third across the line to easily retain his race lead another day.
Most of the other GC favorites finished in the lead group to retain their positions. American Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), however, lost about a minute due to a crash late in the stage.
“It’s really nice to win this stage,” Boasson Hagen said. “It’s been a great start to the Tour for us and to win a stage was a big objective for us. It’s really nice to win a stage in the Tour. It’s been like a dream to win this stage. I’ve had a free role on the team for the first part of the Tour, but when the mountains come, I will helping Brad (Wiggins) in the mountains. Thor has the yellow jersey now and to win a stage in front of him is a big honor.”
The second half of the stage featured many small hills, including three categorized ascents, two cat. 3’s and one cat. 4. The stage started dry and cloudy, but the peloton increasingly dealt with rain and slippery wet roads in the second half of the day.
Break du jour
Anthony Roux (FdJ), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) Adriano Malori (Lampre) Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) escaped early on this long day. Roux, in 50th place at 2:25 behind Hushovd, was the best placed in the break. The peloton allowed them a gap of upwards of 11 minutes with 100km covered.
The intermediate sprint
In the breakaway, Roux grabbed the first place points at the day’s intermediate sprint. Back in the peloton, Mark Cavendish grabbed the 10 points on offer for sixth place after a spirited field sprint. Former green jersey wearer Joaquin Rojas was seventh and American Tyler Farrar was eighth.
Roux also snagged the first place points on the Cat. 3 Côte du Bourg d’Ouilly. But thanks to grabbing points on the two other summits, Hoogerland took over the lead of the KOM competition.
Escaping the escape
With 52km remaining, Westra and Malori attacked the others, who didn’t put up much of a fight and soon drifted back to the peloton. The pair had a bit over three minutes’ gap ahead of the peloton at 40k to go, but with HTC, BMC and Liquigas leading the chase, they had just 30 seconds with 16k to go, when Westra gave up the ghost and left Malori to his own devices.
Malori, the Italian time trial champion, dangled off the front until he was finally caught in the final 3k. He earned the day’s Most Aggressive prize for his efforts.
On a sharp hill with 2.5km to go, Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma) and Voeckler (Europcar) attacked and briefly built a substantial lead before being drawn back by the sprint teams.
Up the final stretch Alexander Vinokourov led the charge, but was soon swarmed, and Boasson Hagen took a clear win while Goss nipped a fading Hushovd at the line.
Boasson Hagen said he felt strong on Wednesday but timed his sprint wrong. Luckily his strength lasted another day. “I was feeling good over the last climbs — I stayed close to the front all the time — I was feeling my legs, I felt really great. – Geraint Thomas came and did a really good leadoff in the end.”
“It’s a great day for Norway — to have two riders on the podium together … to win like that ahead of Thor in the yellow jersey is like a dream.”
Hushovd was quick to applaud Boasson Hagen’s win.
“It’s not too bad eh? A little country like Norway and we’ve got the stage win and the yellow jersey,” said Hushovd.
“Edvald has great potential. He’s won the longest stage of the Tour, and one which was very difficult. He’s got a great future ahead of him. … He does well on most terrains, sprints, time trials and he can climb well also.”
- 1. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky Procycling, in 5h 13′ 37″
- 2. Matthew Harley Goss, HTC – Highroad, at s.t.
- 3. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin – Cervelo, at s.t.
- 4. Romain Feillu, Vacansoleil-Dcm, at s.t.
- 5. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Movistar Team, at s.t.
- 1. Thor Hushovd, Team Garmin – Cervelo, in 22h 50′ 34″
- 2. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team, at 00:01
- 3. Frank Schleck, Team Leopard-Trek, at 00:04
- 4. David Millar, Team Garmin – Cervelo, at 00:08
- 5. Andréas KlÖden, Team Radioshack, at 00:10