Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed his first win since the last stage of Tirreno-Adriatico in March, in so doing likely earning himself a berth at the Tour de France.
At the Dauphiné on Sunday, he won the seventh and final stage, but it wasn't a bunch sprint this time around. The Norwegian did it in a style to that of Bernard Hinault when he won the 1980 world championship in the same town, Sallanches. The day's stage also included the Domancy, a climb which Dauphiné riders had to ascend five times.
"We had a plan for winning the stage this morning," Boasson Hagen said in a post race press conference. "That's why Team Sky rode behind the breakaway that went early. When we got close to the escapees, I counter attacked, and it was nice that I managed to stay in the front. It's good to win today and to be back after the injury."
After Milan-San Remo, where he didn't deliver the result he expected due to an upset stomach, the Norwegian was sidelined with an inflammation of his Achilles tendon. "I got a lot of physiotherapy treatment with a great support from my team," Boasson Hagen said. "Hopefully it's gone."
"I'm still not 100 percent sure of the reason why I got it, so I hope it won't come back. It didn't bother me too much and I wasn't afraid of not returning to my previous level. There was never any stress from my team, and I'm not a stressed guy either, so I took it easy during my break. I've used my free time the best way I could."
Boasson Hagen isn't a great connoisseur of cycling history, but he was told before the last stage of the Dauphiné that the day's parcours would be part of the circuit of Sallanches, where Bernard Hinault was crowned 1980 world champion. All 11 teammates of 'the Badger' on that year's French national team were invited to follow and watch the finish of the Dauphiné: Robert Alban, Jean-René Bernaudeau, Christian Seznec, Bernard Bourreau, André Chalmel, Raymond Martin, Mariano Martinez, Yves Hézard, Régis Ovion, Bernard Vallet and Bernard Thévenet, who was also at the Dauphiné in the role of race director.
"I wouldn't have known that history if nobody had informed me before the stage," said Boasson Hagen with a big smile. "I was told the world championships were on a very hard circuit that year." He's used to these historical questions after winning the 2009 Gent-Wevelgem without knowing who Eddy Merckx is.
With two laps to go, there were some indications that a Breton rider might imitate the great Hinault as Christophe Le Mével was active in the climb of Domancy, but on the last ascent, it was Boasson Hagen who rode everyone off his wheel and didn't give the peloton a chance to come across. The Norwegian did it in a style reminiscent of Hinault.
"In the second last lap, I tried to save as much energy as possible," Boasson Hagen said. "It was nice to manage to stay away. I hope it's enough to show that my form is coming for the Tour de France. I think I'll do it now. The green jersey might be a goal for me in the future, but not this year. I'll help my team the best I can and hopefully I'll try and get a stage win."
Boasson Hagen will contest the Norwegian Championships road race and time trial in Trondheim before taking the start of his first Tour de France in Rotterdam at the age of 23.