Hansen ready for Norway defense

24-year-old Tinkoff rider solos into race lead with 'breakthrough' performance

Ice along the roadside at the Tour of Norway didn't slow down Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo), who soloed away from the peloton on the final climb of Friday's stage 3 to take the win and the overall lead. MTN-Qhubeka's Edvald Boasson Hagen finished second and now trails Hansen in the overall by 38 seconds.

"It was indeed a fantastic feeling to cross the line taking my first professional win," Hansen said. "It's a great feeling to be the first on the line and the way I won means a lot to me. I'm really happy and would like to thank the entire team for their effort. They controlled the break and Chris Anker helped me a lot on the final climb."

The stage victory marks the 24-year-old Dane's first professional win in his two seasons with Tinkoff-Saxo, and now the 24-year-old is set to defend the jersey during Saturday's 167km stage from Rjukan to Geilo.

"Of course, now I'll do everything in my power to secure the jersey and the overall win," Hansen said. "Fortunately, my rivals need more than bonus seconds, and with Boasson Hagen 38 seconds from me as second in the GC, I'll need to pay special attention to him, while the team in general must try to control the events."

After Tinkoff-Saxo worked to control the early breakaway, Hansen bridged to Team Sky's Davis Lopez on the final climb before dropping the Spaniard near the summit and then motoring over the downhill run to the finish in Rjukan.

"He lost a bit of time in the headwind towards the finish line, but it was a very prominent win," said team director Nicki Sørensen, who added that Hansen's ride was a breakthrough performance.

"It was some very strong competitors like Mollema and Schleck that he rode away from and he was clearly the strongest on the climb," Sørensen said. "Actually it's not often that you see a race where the time gaps are this big after a final 1st category climb. So it was a fantastic day for Jesper, for the whole team and also for me in the car."

Sørensen said the team will celebrate Hansens's win at the dinner table before turning their attention to the next two stages.

"This evening we'll sit down and create a plan," Sørensen said. "But the most important factor is that the guys are motivated and ready to work together like they did today."

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