Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did well to get into the heart of the action on Wednesday’s stage 5 of Tour de France. Edvald Boasson Hagen was part of a strong breakaway, which virtually put him in the yellow jersey during the stage.
Right from the beginning of the day, multiple riders tried to break away. Ultimately, a strong group of eight riders managed to distance the peloton. Boasson Hagen had been very attentive near the front and he was quick to join the moves when top breakaway riders like Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) attacked.
Being only 16 seconds down in the general classification, it didn’t take long before Boasson Hagen was the virtual leader of this year’s Tour de France. However, the front group never got a gap of much more than three minutes as BMC set a high pace in the peloton.
At the bottom of the final climb of the day, the breakaway had less than a minute on the pack. Boasson Hagen fought hard at the front but with five kilometers to go, the strong Norwegian got caught by a select group of favorites, including Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Serge Pauwels. The Belgian did very well to follow the GC riders and after an impressive effort, Pauwels crossed the line in 18th place, just over a minute after Fabio Aru (Astana) who soloed to victory. Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the overall lead of the race, while Pauwels is now 20th in the general classification.
“The idea was to get a rider in the break as we thought it might go all the way to the finish. We had Edvald [Boasson Hagen] up there, which was really good, but BMC took control of the race and the break had no chance of making it. I tried to test my legs on the final climb to see how far I could go with the best riders. I stayed up there for quite a while so I’m really happy with my shape”.