Merlo takes first pro win on Britain's final stage

Boasson Hagen closes Tour of Britain with overall win

Michele Merlo (Barloworld) claimed his first professional victory, at the end of his first season in the pro ranks, to take the showpiece final stage of the Tour of Britain in London on Saturday.

After two second-places earlier in the week it was just reward for the 25-year old Italian, who, with Barloworld folding at the end of the year, is without a team for 2010.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) crossed the line in 39th, opting not to contest the sprint after his four stage wins in succession, on stages three, four, five and six. The 22-year old Norwegian had no need to go for win number five, having rubber-stamped his superiority, and cemented the overall win, mid-way through the final stage, by winning the third bonus sprint ahead of Chris Sutton (Garmin-Slipstream). Sutton also had a good final day, leapfrogging Martin Reimer and Kai Reus to claim second overall.

Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) was an early attacker, continuing a trend of the previous two stages, which had also seen him on the offensive, though he wasn’t allowed too much leeway. Starting the day at sixth overall, forty seconds down, he still presented an outside threat – as did his breakaway companion Tom Southam (Rapha-Condor), a minute down in 35th.

One of the stars of the race, the Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Toppsport-Vlaanderen), was predictably enough another attacker, having featured in breaks on all but one previous stage. The King of the Mountains and sprints winner admitted afterwards that he had a bizarre motivation for his final escape. "We worked out I had been on the attack for 594km," he said. "I needed 6km to make it 600. Once I had done 6km, I dropped back."

So bunched together were the first fifty riders on general classification – all of them starting the final day within a minute of Boasson Hagen – that Columbia-HTC opted to take no chances. Over the ten laps of a 9km circuit around Whitehall they kept a tight grip on proceedings.

One group that did get clear numbered five riders, with Simon Clarke (ISD-Neri), Darren Lapthorne (Rapha-Condor), Davide Appollonio (Cervelo Test Team), Tom Stamsnijder (Rabobank) and Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) putting 22 seconds between themselves and the bunch.

Of the quintet, it was the presence of Lequatre that worried Columbia-HTC. Last year’s Tour of Britain winner, who has figured in several moves throughout the race, started the day placed seventh, 43 seconds behind Boasson Hagen. They were allowed a couple of laps of freedom before being brought back.

Several teams tried to set up the final sprint, with Halfords-Bikehut appearing at the front for Rob Hayles, and Euskaltel-Euskadi also prominent, for their man Koldo Fernandez. Thomas, meanwhile, took Merlo up to the front at 2km to go, dropping him off on the fourth wheel and then watching as the punchy Italian claimed the win from Fernandez, with Sutton third and Pierpaolo De Negri (ISD-Neri) fourth.

The British riders Hayles and Russell Downing (Candi-TV-Marshalls Pasta) placed fifth and sixth, with Tour of Ireland winner Downing ending the race as best British rider overall, in fifth.

"It’s my first year as a pro and my first win, so it’s very emotional," said Merlo. "It’s also my first time in London, and it was a great stage with big crowds. Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome did a great job for me, and I really trust them. Geraint at the end took me to fourth, and then I began sprinting with 200m, hit the front then, and held on. I’m trying to find another team and this win should help."

Boasson Hagen said, "It’s really good to win, and my team has worked all week. It’s been amazing, with all the crowds." The Eneco Tour winner put his latest stage race success just below that one, pointing out: "It’s a ProTour race, so it’s a bit bigger. But I don’t normally compare results. I’m really satisfied."

His fourth stage win, into Bideford, had been the most surprising, he confessed. "I didn’t expect the fourth one. But I had a really strong team and they helped me all week."

Due to ride for Team Sky in 2010, Boasson Hagen was asked if – after three stage wins last year, and four this year – he feels a special affinity to Great Britain. "I am still a Norwegian rider," he said. "But it’s nice to win in this country."

At the world championships in Mendrisio he will ride the time trial and road race. He even managed an hour on his time trial bike after Thursday’s stage, but he played down his chances in the road race. "There are a lot of good guys, it’s a hard race, and a lot longer than this," he said. "I don’t expect to win, but I hope to do a good race."

Full Results
1Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld1:56:55 
2Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
3Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream  
4Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD-Neri  
5Robert Hayles (GBr) Team Halfords  
6Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
7Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
8Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
9Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
10Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha  
11Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
12Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor  
13Tim Mertens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
14Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team  
15Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
16Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team  
17Simon Holt (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
18Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
19Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank  
20Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
21Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
22Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervelo Test Team  
23Mauro Finetto (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
24Javier Aramendia (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
25Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale  
26Ian Stannard (GBr) ISD-Neri  
27Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel  
28Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
29Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor  
30Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
31Enrico Zen (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
32Tanel Kangert (Est) AG2R La Mondiale  
33Christophe Laurent (Fra) Agritubel  
34Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
35Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
36Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
37Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank  
38Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank  
39Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC  
40Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - HTC  
41Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
42Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld  
43Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha  
44Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team  
45Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team Halfords  
46Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
47Blaise Sonnery (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
48Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor  
49Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld  
50Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
51Thomas Berkhout (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
52Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
53Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
54Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) Barloworld  
55Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor  
56Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
57Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor  
58Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
59Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank  
60Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
61Serge Pauwels (Bel) Cervelo Test Team  
62Emilien Benoit Berges (Fra) Agritubel  
63Gert Dockx (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC  
64Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
65Edward Clancy (GBr) Team Halfords  
66Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-Neri  
67Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
68Tom Criel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
69Alessandro Colo (Ita) ISD-Neri  
70Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
71Bartozs Huzarsky (Pol) ISD-Neri  
72Filippo Savini (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
73James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
74Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
75Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha  
76Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream  
77Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha  
78Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC  
79Andres Sergio De Lis (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
80Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha  
81Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC  
82Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream  
83Steven Cummings (GBr) Barloworld  
84Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords  
85Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test Team  
86Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor  
87Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel  
88Ian Bibby (GBr) Team Halfords  
89Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
90Christopher Froome (GBr) Barloworld  
91Josu Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:23 
DNSTony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC  
Sprint 1
1Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team5pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream3 
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT2 
4Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team1 
Sprint 2
1Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel5pts
2Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank2 
3Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team1 
4Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor1 
Sprint 3
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC5pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream3 
3Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank2 
4Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team1 
Most aggressive rider
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
1Candi TV- Pinarello RT5:50:45 
2Cervelo TestTeam  
3Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
4AG2R La Mondiale  
5CSF Group - Navigare  
8Joker Bianchi  
9Rapha Condor  
14Team Halfords  
15Team Katusha  
16Garmin - Slipstream  
17Team Columbia-HTC  
Final general classification
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC28:06:24 
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream0:00:23 
3Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team0:00:25 
4Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank0:00:26 
5Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:00:39 
6Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld0:00:43 
7Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel  
8Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD-Neri0:00:47 
9Reinier Honig (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:49 
10Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor  
11Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
12Serge Pauwels (Bel) Cervelo Test Team  
13Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank0:00:50 
14Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:00:51 
15Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) ISD-Neri0:00:52 
16Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT  
17Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team  
18Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
19Javier Aramendia (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
20Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
21Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Slipstream  
22Ian Stannard (GBr) ISD-Neri  
23Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC  
24Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team0:00:57 
25Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:00:58 
26Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha0:01:00 
27Stian Remme (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:01:01 
28Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:01:03 
29Mauro Finetto (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
30Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank  
31Christophe Laurent (Fra) Agritubel  
32Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
33Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) Barloworld  
34Tom Southam (GBr) Rapha Condor  
35Thomas Berkhout (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team  
36Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel  
37Ivan Velasco (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi  
38Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Joker Bianchi  
39Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team Halfords  
40Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream  
41Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare  
42Blaise Sonnery (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
43Steven Cummings (GBr) Barloworld  
44Chris Newton (GBr) Rapha Condor  
45Bartozs Huzarsky (Pol) ISD-Neri  
46Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank  
47Mauricio Soler (Col) Barloworld  
48Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha  
49Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
50Christopher Froome (GBr) Barloworld  
51Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team0:01:08 
52Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:20 
53Filippo Savini (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:01:27 
54Tanel Kangert (Est) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:45 
55Graham Briggs (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:01:49 
56Alan Marangoni (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:01:50 
57Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:01:58 
58Alessandro Colo (Ita) ISD-Neri0:03:13 
59Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:04:07 
60Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - HTC0:04:11 
61Tom Criel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:05:13 
62Gert Dockx (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:06:11 
63Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel0:06:24 
64Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:13:21 
65Ian Bibby (GBr) Team Halfords0:16:04 
66Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha0:16:26 
67Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha0:16:39 
68Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:17:35 
69Frederik Wilman (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:17:53 
70Simon Richardson (GBr) Rapha Condor0:18:08 
71Mark McNally (GBr) Team Halfords0:18:15 
72Enrico Zen (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare0:19:03 
73Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:21:05 
74Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test Team0:21:43 
75Dan Craven (Nam) Rapha Condor0:28:28 
76Sondre Gjerdevik Sörtveit (Nor) Joker Bianchi0:32:38 
77James Sampson (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:34:28 
78Peter Williams (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:35:41 
79Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld0:37:03 
80Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank0:37:14 
81Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:37:26 
82Emilien Benoit Berges (Fra) Agritubel  
83Josu Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:42:12 
84Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream0:42:56 
85Tim Mertens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:47:08 
86Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team Katusha0:48:00 
87Andres Sergio De Lis (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:52:59 
88Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor0:56:07 
89Simon Holt (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT1:03:23 
90Edward Clancy (GBr) Team Halfords1:03:34 
91Robert Hayles (GBr) Team Halfords1:18:45 
Points classification
1Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - HTC86pts
2Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream86 
3Russell Downing (GBr) Candi TV- Pinarello RT74 
4Michele Merlo (Ita) Barloworld63 
5Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team54 
Mountains classification
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator60pts
2Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team28 
3Federico Canuti (Ita) CSF Group - Navigare22 
4Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld21 
5Daniel Fleeman (GBr) Cervelo Test Team19 
Sprint classification
1Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator48pts
2Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team30 
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld16 
4Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel15 
5Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank11 
Teams classification
2Cervelo TestTeam0:00:09 
5CSF Group - Navigare0:00:20 
7Garmin - Slipstream  
8AG2R La Mondiale  
11Rapha Condor  
12Candi TV- Pinarello RT0:00:36 
13Team Columbia-HTC0:01:12 
14Team Halfords0:01:28 
15Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator0:03:48 
16Team Katusha0:15:43 
17Joker Bianchi0:17:21 


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