Thursday 22 February 2018

Sky climb onto centre stage

Team Sky took their biggest step yet in the Tour de France yesterday when Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen scored their first-ever stage win and at the same time a first stage victory for a British team in the Tour in more than three decades.

As landmarks go, yesterday's was pretty big. Not since 1968, when Yorkshire's Barry Hoban proved he was much more than 'just' a sprinter with a stage win in the Alps, has a British team taken a victory in the Tour.

As befits such a major collective breakthrough, Boasson Hagen's win came at the end of a strong team effort. Sprinter Ben Swift sacrificed his own chances to guide the Norwegian and Geraint Thomas to the foot of a nasty little climb about two kilometres from the finish in the town of Lisieux.

After the climb and heavy downpours had split the bunch in three, with Mark Cavendish among those losing contact, Thomas was responsible for edging Boasson Hagen into position for his final sprint.

With 300 metres to go on a slightly uphill finish, Thomas' mission was completed and it was up to the Norwegian to finish off the good work, outpowering two of the world's top sprinters, Australian Matt Goss and Boasson Hagen's compatriot Thor Hushovd, who is the Tour's race leader.

As scalps go, this was impressive.

Irish Independent

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