Clean sweep for Boasson Hagen
Norwegian takes all three jerseys in dominant display
By Jonathan Turner. Last Updated: August 16, 2011 12:31pm
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen won the Eneco Tour in perfect fashion with an emphatic victory on the final stage on Sunday to complete a clean sweep of the overall jerseys.
The Norwegian, winner of two stages at the Tour de France, had continued his superb form throughout the seven-day race and he was once again given brilliant support by his team-mates.
They repelled all attacks on the 201.2 kilometres stage around Sittard-Geleen, meaning that the field was together heading towards the finish before Boasson Hagen rounded things off in style.
Coming round the final corner he was just behind Jürgen Roelandts but the Omega Pharma-Lotto man crashed in front of him and Boasson Hagen then had daylight between himself and the rest and was able to ease up before the line and still win by around five bike lengths.
Manuel Cardoso (RadioShack) was second, with Lars Boom (Rabobank) rounding off the podium places in third.
In terms of the overall, Boasson topped the standings by 22 seconds from Philippe Gilbert, with a further six seconds back to David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo). It was his second Eneco Tour title, having won the event in 2009.
The points jersey and the young rider's jersey were also both claimed by Boasson Hagen.
Team work pays dividends
Afterwards Boasson Hagen was quick to pay tribute to his team-mates, saying: "We had a good plan today and with Juan Antonio [Flecha] getting in the break it meant we didn't have to ride from behind.
"And then later we controlled the race and I'm really thankful for all the team's support, they did a great job all week.
"I was lucky to avoid the crash at the end and have to mention Geraint Thomas who did the longest lead-out ever in the final three kilometres!"
Tactics spot on
Team Sky got their tactics right from the outset, Flecha working himself into a 12-man break to take the pressure off in the early stages and later on the remnants of that break helped to hoover up any intermediate sprint seconds on offer to maintain the 12 seconds advantage with which Boasson Hagen had started the day.
That group was reduced in numbers as the stage wore on, with Flecha among those back with his team-mates, as the route covered no fewer than 22 climbs and plenty of the parcours used for the Amstel Gold Race.
The gap was less than a minute inside the last 15km and it was in the closing stages that Boasson Hagen's GC rivals threw down their challenges.
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), who started the day in fourth, was the first to try his luck as he attacked 11km from the finish.
But Team Sky responded brilliantly to shut down that attack and then did the same when Jelle Vanendert tried to string things out for his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammate Gilbert.
A late push from Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) saw him briefly move clear in the last 4km but he was reeled in just before that final corner as Boason Hagen surged past before celebrating a memorable success.