Edvald Boasson Hagen was on the wrong side of yet another photo-finish, placing 2nd behind Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) on today’s opening stage of the Tour of Britain. Elia Viviani (Team Sky) finished in 3rd position on the stage.
The opening stage of the 2017 Tour of Britain saw riders leave Edinburgh on a 190km journey to Kelso. It was a mostly flat route but with a few undulations in the final 30km of the stage. 8 riders formed an early break of the day but with a number of teams looking at a sprint finale today, and with the narrow roads leading to Kelso, the peloton kept the gap between the 2 and 3-minute mark all day.
Initially it was Orica-Scott and Team Sky controlling the peloton, with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and Quickstep-Floors never far behind either. The race really sprung to life though with 60km to go when BMC Racing came to the front and pushed the pace in a crosswind section. Around 40 riders were dropped but our African Team had all 6 riders in the front.
While the peloton regrouped a few kilometers later, the acceleration took the wind out of the breakaway’s sails and only 2 riders remained upfront. With 30km to go Mark Cavendish started pulling at the head of the peloton before Scott Thwaites took over. Thwaites reeled in the last two escapees just over the top of the final King of the Mountains prime and the pace our Yorkshireman had set reduced the peloton to just 70 riders.
Our African Team had Boasson Hagen, Thwaites and Mark Renshaw in the reduced front group as we looked to prepare for a bunch kick. Renshaw and Thwaites did well to set up our Norwegian for the technical final, Renshaw in particular delivering Boasson Hagen to the final 500m in textbook fashion. As the rider’s bikes slid all over the cobble surface to the line, it looked like “Eddy the Boss” had taken a fine win, only to be denied by the photo-finish. A great result nonetheless for Boasson Hagen as the bonus seconds also saw him move into 2nd in overall classification.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was a pretty fast stage today. A few teams controlled the break closely and our tactic was to go really hard over the last two climbs. The guys did a really good job to put everyone else under pressure so that was excellent for us. It wasn’t a very big group that came to final and I still had Mark Renshaw and Scott Thwaites to bring me into a good position for the last corners. I came close in the sprint, I have been in photo-finishes before and it was another pity in the end but we got some good bonus seconds already for the overall.