Outnumbered, Norwegian waited too long
Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen said opening the sprint against his Norwegian compatriot Thor Hushovd earlier could have won him a second Tour de France stage.
Speaking after the dramatic finale in Gap on stage 16, second-placed Boasson Hagen insisted that the numerical advantage of Garmin-Cervelo's Hushovd and Ryder Hesjedal was always going to be difficult to counter.
"It was always going to be hard because there were two against one. In the last kilometer I had to close the gap to Ryder and Thor was just sitting on my wheel.
"If I'd opened it a bit earlier then yeah, maybe I could have beaten Thor, but now it's in the past and I can't do anything about it." He explained he was getting limited input on tactics for the team car. "I tried to do as much of it as possible myself and react in the moment."
The trio made it to the finish line more than four minutes ahead of the GC favourites on the 162.5km route between Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux and Gap. The three riders splintered off from a ten-man break on the Col de Manse with about 15km to go when Hesjedal launched countered an attack from Katusha's Mikhail Ignatiev.
It was the first time Boasson Hagen has competed in such a small sprint against the current world champion, 33-year-old Hushovd, although the pair did share a podium earlier this Tour at Lisieux in which Boasson Hagen won. After that stage he said: "I've always wanted to be as good as Thor or better," and at 24, Boasson Hagen is seen by many as Hushovd's heir.
Despite the narrow loss today, Boasson Hagen said he was satisfied with his race so far. "It's been a good Tour – I've won a stage so I can be happy with my performance."
- Tour de France