Norwegian road champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) digs deep to cross the gap to Cancellara and Sagan.
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Wiggins and Boasson Hagen impress, bad luck hits Froome and Rogers
Team Sky left Seraing, Belgium generally happy with the way their day had gone after Edvald Boasson Hagen went close to winning the Tour de France's first road stage and team leader Bradley Wiggins kept his main rivals in check. Chris Froome and Mick Rogers weren't so fortunate, however. Froome punctured when the bunch was in full cry with 15km remaining and finished 1:25 down, while Rogers fell with 22km but recovered to finish in the front group.
Team boss Dave Brailsford explained he was generally happy at the end of what he described as "a sketchy stage". "All in all it was important that Brad didn't lose any time. Froomey punctured with about 15k to go, which took him out. Mick crashed with about 20k to go, which was disappointing, but he'll be all right. It got really nervous once that first crash happened. But we've come through it. The first stage is done and we're still here to fight another day."
Brailsford was particularly impressed with Boasson Hagen and Wiggins. "Eddy was going to go for the stage and I think he bridged across really, really well, but I think by the time he got there he'd just about run out of legs. It was a good effort," he said of the Norwegian champion.
Asked why Wiggins had been seen a long way back in the bunch during the closing kilometres of the stage, Brailsford said: "I think Brad just drifted back a little bit and then he was with Bernie [Eisel]. They knew on that flat final straight with a tailwind that he would just come around. It was easier to move up on the climb than on the flat because he had the tailwind, so he just waited for that and moved up very easily on the climb. As everyone was going full-gas up there he was going around the outside and taking 10, 15, 20 places. He looked comfortable."
Brailsford was also asked about Mark Cavendish's decision to sit up a couple of kilometres from the finish. "Cav sat up but said he felt good. Once he knew he wasn't going to be competitive there was no reason whatsoever for him to empty the tank. He knew that Eddy was there trying to battle for the stage," the Sky boss said. "He did go for the intermediate sprint. The thing with those sprints is that the first few guys get a good number of points but then it drops down to just a point differential so as long as you're in that little mix you're not going to lose a whole host of points."
Brailsford also admitted that he had also been impressed with the performances of stage-winner Peter Sagan and yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara. "Sagan was very cunning. He positioned himself very well on Cancellara's wheel. It was a bit reminiscent of Milan-San Remo. You could see that Cancellara was going to take Sagan to the line, as he did with Gerrans in San Remo. And so he should have done because he had a good chance of winning the stage himself and it was a hell of an effort he made to try to achieve that. But, for a young lad in his first Tour, Sagan showed a lot of cunning and credit to him."
Rogers didn't look too shaken up by his tumble as he warmed down after the stage. Looking back on his crash, he said: "I was pretty lucky actually. I kind of almost came to a stop before I crashed. We were probably only going about 30k's an hour. That's the Tour! It's a miracle if you get through it without a crash."
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