Boasson Hagen's victory placed him ahead of the remainder of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana's star-studded line-up in a time trial where pure power and climbing ability both counted for a great deal.
The Norwegian clocked the fastest time in the intermediate checkpoint on the flat opening section, and at the top of the climb he was the only rider under the virtual barrier of 13 minutes, a margin enough for him to claim his team's first victory of 2019.
Of the late starters, Ion Izagirre (Astana) and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) came close to toppling him, but in the end, Boasson Hagen remained in command. His win was a reminder, too, of Dimension Data's resolution to put their difficult 2018 season behind them and was an excellent early season morale boost for the South African squad.
Having completed the course nearly an hour before defending Valenciana champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crossed the line, Boasson Hagen had more than enough time to catch his breath after his effort, warming down on the rollers in the open-sided tent that doubled as a press room and then talking to journalists as rider after rider flashed through the finish and his win grew steadily more likely.
"I didn't really expect such a good start, but I was happy to be able to start off so well," Boasson Hagen told Cyclingnews. "I was able to train well over the whole winter and that was really good. I just went as fast as I could."
One factor in Boasson Hagen's favour was he had been up the time trial's main climb - essentially where the race was won and lost on Wednesday - well before the race itself, because he has been training in the area in the past few weeks.
"But it's not like I've been peaking for this particular race," he explained. "I've been close by, I knew this was on the race, and that's why."
Boasson Hagen said that for the time trial as short as this one, there was no particular strategy to be applied. "I just went full out and if I blew, I blew. That was my tactic," he said with a laugh, "start hard and go fast."
Asked later if he would defend his lead, Boasson Hagen answered with a categorical and simple 'yes', although he admitted that although he knew the main challenge of Wednesday's time trial relatively well, the rest of Valenciana's terrain was unchartered territory for him.
"I've never done Valencia before, so this is new for me," he said. "But I'm really happy I won here. It's been a long time since I've been that good in a time trial."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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