Boasson Hagen Soloes to Victory in Tour de France
Realizing today's 222.5 kilometer stage 19 of the 2017 Tour de France from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence would present the last chance for opportunistic breakaway riders to shine in the race, it was no surprise to see numerous attacks during the first part of the stage.
It took nearly an hour of intensive racing before a group of twenty riders finally managed to build a solid lead on the main peloton. The group included Dimension Data's Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Jan Bakelants (AG2R), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Pierre Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Gianluca Brambilla (QuickStep Floors), Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates), Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha), Rudy Molard (FDJ), Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo Oscaro), Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), and Movistar's Daniele Bennati.
Boasson Hagen had been very attentive near the front, covering the most dangerous moves. In theory, the fast Norwegian didn't have to attack, as he would be one of the favorites in a bunch sprint. However, when the big group went away, he was quick to follow, which would later prove to be a very good decision.
The breakaway worked well together and as the peloton appeared satisfied with the situation given tomorrow's time trial and the demanding mountain stages of the Tour so far, the gap quickly grew to over seven minutes.
As the front group took on the last forty kilometers of the stage, the riders started attacking each other. Ultimately, nine riders, including eventual Boasson Hagen, got away. The reduced front group kept splitting up, but only for limited bouts of time as the riders continuously regrouped.
With about three kilometers left of today's Tour de France stage, Boasson Hagen cleverly chose the right direction in a roundabout, while the other riders went left. This opened up a small gap. Arndt initially followed Boasson Hagen, but he proved unable to keep up with the Norwegian time trial champion after he had lost a few bike lengths in an amateurish attempt to look back at the riders chasing from behind.
Boasson Hagen eventually crossed the finishing line in Salon-de-Provence in solo fashion. Arndt finished five seconds behind.
SeeSense Bike Lights
"This is fantastic. The team helped me a lot before the break went away. They controlled the peloton and on the climb I was in a good position to follow the attacks. Within the front group, we worked really well together all day. Naturally, in the end there were some attacks, but I managed to close them down a ride quite smartly," Boasson Hagen told Roadcycling.com.
"I had studied the route and I knew I had to go right in that last roundabout. Afterwards, I managed to go solo and I was so happy when I crossed the line. I've been so close so many times. It's really nice to finally get this victory for the team and for myself as well."
The peloton finished over 12 minutes down with the yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) keeping the overall lead before tomorrow's 22.5 km individual time trial in Marseille. AG2R's Romain Bardet is 22 seconds behind Froome, while Team Cannondale - Drapac's Rigoberto Uran will be fighting against a 29 second disadvantage on his Cannondale time trial bike tomorrow.
“It's definitely a fast course, very fast, small climb out the back of Marseille,” Froome commented. "I think it suits me well as it is not hugely technical. It's quite a power time trial. I certainly think someone like Primoz Roglic and Tony Martin could be fighting for a stage win.
"Certainly at this point it's my race to lose. I just have to go do everything right and just hopefully not have a bad day."
Buy bikes and cycling gear in our road bike shop.