Boasson Hagen on the brink at Tour of Britain
Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) is on the brink of a second Tour of Britain victory, six years on from his first triumph as a youngster with the Highroad set-up in 2009.
The Norwegian enters Sunday’s final circuit stage in London with a 13-second lead over Wouter Poels (Sky), while Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy) a further 30 seconds back in third overall.
Boasson Hagen enjoyed an untroubled day on the penultimate stage to Ipswich on Saturday. His MTN-Qhubeka squad was able to let the early break go clear, safe in the knowledge that Lotto Soudal would chase it down again to set up a bunch finish for eventual winner André Greipel. Boasson Hagen placed fifth in the sprint to remain in yellow.
“The team did a good job today to help me staying in yellow,” Boasson Hagen said. “We were happy with the early break. None of the riders in there were dangerous, so we were content with the situation. I’m happy to wear the yellow jersey in London tomorrow. It would be nice to win the overall.”
Greipel hopes to carry form to Richmond Worlds
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) continued his remarkable 2015 campaign by landing his 16th victory of the season in the bunch sprint in Ipswich on stage 7 of the Tour of Britain, the same day that his place in the Germany team for the World Championships in Richmond was announced.
“My condition is good, and that’s what I wanted for the worlds, we will have a strong team with myself and John Degenkolb” Greipel said afterwards.
Greipel was put to the pin of his collar to land stage victory on the Tour of Britain’s penultimate leg, pipping another man with Richmond in mind, Elia Viviani (Sky), in a photo finish.
“It was a close victory, but the photo finish was clear I think,” Greipel said. “Because the teams started with six riders and some lost already two or three, it’s difficult to control, also because everybody is tired after a hard week. Tomorrow we try again, but not without help from other teams. They predict rain, we’ll see if Jens or I will sprint.”
Bardet already looking to 2016 Tour de France
Currently in Canada for Grand Prix de Montreal, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) still has targets this season with the Tour du Gévaudan and the Tour of Lombardy still on his programme, but the Frenchman already has one eye on next July’s Tour de France.
After a trying start, Bardet salvaged something tangible from the 2015 Tour with a fine final week that saw him pick up stage victory at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and 9th place overall, enough for him to be the best-placed Frenchman in Paris.
Speaking to L’Équipe, Bardet explained that he had struggled in the early part of the Tour partly as a result of his crash during June’s Criterium du Dauphiné. “I can say that I underestimated the consequences of my crash at the Dauphiné,” he said. “I couldn’t find my sensations again before the Tour, I was far from my level.”
Bardet also admitted that he had struggled with the heat the first Pyrenean stage to La Pierre Saint-Martin, and said that he was already discussing possible alterations to his preparation for 2016 with that in mind.
“We’re starting to work on managing the heat,” he said. “A year ago, I did some sessions in a sauna, and it was useful for recovering after training too. But when you’re in a sauna, you’re passive and that wasn’t enough. I’m looking at ideas with Denis Riché [his nutritionist]. There isn’t a plan of action yet, we’re doing research. I like to explore.”