EDVALD Boasson Hagen held on to claim his second Tour of Britain victory after a controversial final stage in central London.
The Norwegian MTN-Qhubeka rider maintained his 13-second lead over Team Sky’s Wouter Poels to finish top of the general classification in a total time of 34 hours 52 minutes and 52 seconds. Young British rider Owain Doull finished third overall.
The stage itself – the eighth of the race, a 14-lap, 86.8-kilometre route through the capital’s streets – was won by Team Sky’s Elia Viviani after a review.
Andre Greipel initially appeared to have taken victory in a sprint finish but the German was later ruled to have deviated from his line in an act of dangerous riding. Viviani was promoted to first, handing the Italian his third stage win of the week.
Boasson Hagen sprinted to fifth on the stage, which was upgraded to fourth when Greipel was relegated.
Viviani’s victories in Wrexham, Floors Castle and now London also mean he is only the fifth rider to win three stages in one edition of the race, and joins Mark Cavendish as one of only two riders to win Tour of Britain stages in England, Scotland and Wales.
Speaking afterwards he told TeamSky.com “After yesterday I saw I had good speed in the legs after a really hard week, so we thought we could win today.
“[Ben] Swifty and Andy [Fenn] put me in a perfect position for the last corner. We saw the road go up and I knew we couldn’t start the sprint too early. When I saw Greipel go I went directly on his left-hand side. He came across a little bit, a little bit and that edged me towards the barriers. I’m disappointed because it is better to win without this. He is a big champion and I’ve never seen him do this before. But we won in London and that is the main thing.”
After the stage Greipel insisted the incident was accidental. “I didn’t see Viviani coming,” he said. “I was just concentrating on my sprint and suddenly he was next to me. The final straight wasn’t that wide, I had to look for space to overtake. Everybody was on the limit on the final corner. I didn’t do anything for purpose that’s for sure. That’s sprinting.”
Boasson Hagen’s fourth place on the day was more than enough to see him win the Aviva Yellow Jersey outright ahead of Poels with Welshman Doull capping an outstanding week’s work by moving up to third place overall thanks to a time bonus, the best result of his road career to date.
Boasson Hagen, who won three stages in 2008 and four in 2009, didn’t take a stage win this year, but arguably his overall victory was all the more impressive, having to fight off a determined effort from Team Sky, working for the in-form Poels.
“I am very happy with that win,” said Boasson Hagen who joined MTN Qhubeka at the start of this season from Team Sky.
“The object today was simply to defend the jersey and my team did a great job all day. I always like to race to win. I had my chances with Sky but perhaps I get more chances with MTN Qhubeka. I think perhaps this year it was harder to win the GC than back in 2009, the course was tougher and Sky were very strong.”