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Debate continues about stage 4 tactics in Oman

The day after Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen lost the overall lead at the Tour of Oman, riders and directeur sportifs were still discussing if cycling's unwritten rules had been broken and by whom.

Everyone had a slightly different take on exactly what happened and a slightly different opinion on if Boasson Hagen made a mistake by stopping at a key moment in the race.

Some riders pointed the finger at the Cervelo TestTeam for attacking when the race leader had stopped, but most teams were also quick to jump in their slipstream and join the attack. There was also debate about how far from the finish Boasson Hagen actually stopped and questions were asked why Team Sky didn't really ease up and why they failed to fully let the peloton know what was going on.

As the Team Sky riders put on their numbers, tightened their shoes and loaded up with bottles, their anger and disappointment from the day before had clearly eased. Smiles replaced their scowls and they seemed to have learnt a lesson. They probably won't forget what had happened out on the road but tried to turn the negative into positive and insisted it will only make them stronger as a team.

Edvald Boasson Hagen finished sixth in the sprint behind Tom Boonen and is now focusing on Friday's time trial stage. Victory will surely be some kind of revenge.

"Shit happens," he said, clearly not really wanting to talk about it.

"But it'll make us stronger. We did a good job in the sprint today and we were good together. Now I'll do my best tomorrow in the time trial."

Boonen: "It was a race thing, it happens"

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) was one of the riders who took advantage of the attack but he insisted that he and the other riders who made the front echelon had not broken any unwritten rules.

"I don't think anybody did anything wrong, it was a race thing, it happens. It could have happened to anybody," he told Cyclingnews.

"I was near the front when it happened and Team Sky was pulling pretty hard. Then Boasson Hagen went for a piss but they kept pulling pretty hard."

"Boasson Hagen got back in the group, he wasn't behind, but the problem was that Cervelo passed to the left (forming an echelon) because Sky were pulling with just two guys and not the whole team. Everybody just saw it and 'Vroooom!', 30 guys went and the group split up."

Boonen suggested that the attack happened because Team Sky failed to let the rest of the peloton know what was happening.

"If the team had slowed down when he (Boasson Hagen) stopped, making it obvious that it was a piss stop, I don't think there would have been a problem and everybody would have stopped with him," he said.

"There wasn't so much wind that you couldn't take a piss. But if your team keeps riding at 48km/h and everybody has seen you suffering and you don't make the point that your leader has stopped, the race goes on and sometimes you lose the jersey."

Farrar: " You can't expect the whole peloton to stop"

Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar was also in the front group that gained 1:05 on Boasson Hagen and shared his thoughts on what happened.

"The way I look at it is this. For me it wasn't that the peloton attacked while he (Edvald Boasson Hagen) was standing on the side of the road. He stopped 10km before the crosswinds really picked up but his team kept riding tempo on the front," Farrar told Cyclingnews.

"It's a pity for Boasson Hagen to lose the race that way because he's very strong. It was just unfortunate the way it played out, but to a certain extent, that's bike racing. I wouldn't have expected them to wait for me if I'd been in that situation."

Farrar insisted that there is no animosity towards Team Sky in the peloton.

"I don't feel it. I actually have a lot of friends in that team," he said.

"This isn't a race decided by big margins and there are only a few opportunities to gain time and so guys wanted to gain time by splitting the field in the wind. No one was surprised when the crosswind came, we all knew it was coming a long time before."

"That's part of racing and there's only a few moments of racing when things can break up. In those situations, you can't expect the whole peloton to stop when you want them to."

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.