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Having initially been dropped by Boasson Hagen on the final climb, Poels slowly reeled the Norwegian in before sprinting clear to win stage 5 of the Tour of Britain; Boasson Hagen took the lead with a 1-second advantage

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - PERI

BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF BRITAIN

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10.09.2015 @ 16:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout Poels continued the fantastic Tour of Britain for Team Sky when he took the third win for the team in the queen stage. Despite being dropped by Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) on the final climb, he stayed calm and slowly reeled the Norwegian in before sprinting past him with 100m to go. However, it is Boasson Hagen who moves into the race lead with a 1-second advantage over Poels.

 

Going into the Tour of Britain, Wout Poels was widely tipped as the man to beat. The Dutchman recently showed good condition in Plouay in Poitou-Charentes and with no time trial and a summit finish in stage 5, the course for the British race suited the Sky captain well.

 

Poels already played with the muscles in stage 2 where he was part of a strong group that escaped in the finale and so it was no surprise to see Sky control today’s queen stage firmly. In the end, their captain lived up to expectations as he powered clear to an impressive solo win.

 

The early break was caught as they hit the final 7km climb and it was Ben Swift (Sky) who led the peloton onto the ascent. It didn’t take long for race leader Juan Jose Lobato to sit up.  Evan Oliphant (Raleigh) attacked but Swift slowly reeled him.

 

Instead, Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin) took off. Swift continued to ride on the front as riders constantly got dropped, including Danilo Wyss (BMC).

 

Zepuntke managed to build an advantage of 10 seconds while Sky continued to ride on the front. With 5km to go, the attacking started when Peter Kennaugh (Sky) took off and he was joined by Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) and Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo).

 

The trio passed the fading Zepuntke before Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) brought it back together. He made an immediate counterattack and got a bice lead over a small group that was led by Kennaugh.

 

Edvald Boasson Hagen took over the pace-setting for MTN-Qhubeka and he managed to keep Kruijswijk under control until Wout Poels (Sky) took off. The Ducthman quickly bridged the gap to the lone Dutchman while Fernandez and Boasson Hagen tried to get across.

 

The main group split when Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Great Britian) hit the deck. However, that didn’t stop Boasson Hagen from dropping Fernandez and he quickly started to approach the leaders.

 

Just as he was almost there with 2.3km to go, Poels accelerated again and he managed to distance Kruijswijk who latched onto Boasson Hagen’s wheel. The Borwegian rode extremely well and brought the trio together with 1.9km to go.

 

Fernandez was still in lone pursuit and seemed to get a bit closer as the pace in the front group went down. Poels tried again but he was unable to distance his companions.

 

Boasson Hagen finally came through for a turn but as the pace was slow, Fernandez made it back. It was now a game of cat and mouse as nobody wanted to ride in the strong headwind.

 

Just before the flamme rouge, Boasson Hagen launched a strong attack in a flatter section and no one managed to jump onto his wheel. He immediately got a big gap while Poels took off in pursuit.

 

Boasson Hagen looked like he had made it but Poels gauged his effort perfectly. He reeled the Norwegian in with 100m to go and sprinted past the fading leader to gain a few seconds and take a third stage win for Sky. Further back, a bigger group had formed and it was Benat Intxausti (Movistar) who beat Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) in the sprint for third.

 

However, second place was enough for Boasson Hagen to move into the race lead with a tiny 1-second advantage over Poels. He will get a tough first jersey defence as tomorrow’s stage is one of the hilliest of the race, with 3 category 2 climbs on a course full of ups and downs. However, the final 60km are mostly flat.

 

The queen stage

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the queen stage which brought the riders over 166.4km from Prudhoe to a summit finish at Hartside Fell. The riders tackled an early category 1 climb and then two category 3 climbs at the midpoint before they travelled along flat road to the bottom of the 7km category 1 climb that averaged 5% and led to the finish.

 

It was another dry day in England when the riders gathered for the start. Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) was absent as he is suffering from knee problems.

 

The break is formed

Unlike in the previous stages, there was no big battle to join the break. Almost right from the start, Conor Dunner (An Post), Mark McNally (Madison), Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo), Pete Williams (One Pro) and Morgan Kneisky (Raleigh) escaped and the peloton showed no interest in chasing. Hence, the gap quickly went out to 3 minutes.

 

Williams beat Dunne and McNally in the first intermediate sprint at the 12km mark when the gap had gone out to 4.50. It went out to 6.50 before Sky started to ride on the front and slowly bring the gap down.

 

Sky and Movistar take control

McNally beat Williams, Dunne, Mørkøv and Kneisky in the first KOM sprint while Eddie Dunbar (NFTO) worked his way back to the peloton after a puncture. Ian Bibby (NFTO) sprinted out of the field to pick up the final points on offer.

 

Sky and Movistar joined forces on the front of the peloton and they had brought the gap down to 6.00 after 50km of racing. Moments later, Williams beat Dunne and Kneisky in the second intermediate sprint while McNally beat Williams, Dunne, Mørkøv and Kneisky in the second KOM sprint.

 

Cavendish goes down

The gap was now coming down as Andrew Fenn, Elia Viviani (Sky) and Igor Anton (Movistar) were working strongly in the field. It was down to 3.45 with 71km to go.

 

McNally made it three in a row by beating Williams, Dunne and Mørkøv in the final KOM sprint while a small crash in the peloton involved Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar). That didn’t stop Fenn, Viviani Anton who had brought the gap down to 3.20 when they entered the final 60km.

 

MTN-Qhubeka start to chase

Ten kilometres further down the road, the gap was still 3.10 and now Anton had stopped his work. Instead, Reinardt van Rensburg came to the fore for MTN-Qhubeka and he shared the work with Fenn and Viviani for a long time.

 

Kneisky and Dunne were dropped from the front group, leaving just 3 riders to press on. It was Williams who beat McNally and Mørkøv in the next KOM sprint.

 

More teams come to the fore

Entering the final 40km, Viviani had also finished his work and the gap was down to just 2.20. Ten kilometres later, the situation was unchanged while the two chasers were already 1.15 behind. They quickly decided to sit up.

 

With 25km to go, the gap was still 2.10 and so an NFTO rider started to work with van Rensburg and Fenn. Alan Marangoni also came to the fore for Cannondale-Garmin and now the gap was melting away. It was 1.55 with 22km to go and just two kilometres later it was 1.25.

 

The break is caught

Ian Stannard (Sky) and Marangoni took some huge turns to reduce the gap to a minute with 16km to go and moments later it was Bradley Wiggins driving the pace. With 14km to go, Sky took completely control with Stannard and he had brought the gap down to 6 seconds with 11km to go.

 

Williams and Mørkøv tried to extend their time in the front while McNally sat up but with 10km to go, it was all back together. The pace briefly went down, with Gerald Ciolek hitting the front for MTN-Qhubeka before Sky again took control with Ben Swift. He led the peloton onto the climb where the drama unfolded.

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