Edwald Boasson Hagen provided MTN-Qhubeka’s best result of the Tour de France to date when he sprinted to an incredible fifth spot in Tuesday’s fourth stage in the 221km ride from Serain to Cambrai.
It was a stage that took in seven sections of the dreaded cobblestones that have proved the undoing of many a top rider before yesterday.
Boasson Hagen was part of a 35-strong group of riders that got away after the cobbles and Tony Martin took the stage after breaking free with three kilometres to ride.
It was some good team work by Africa’s first TDF team that saw Norway’s Boasson Hagen up with the leaders, with American Tyler Farrar, no doubt still hurting after a Monday tumble, playing a vital part.
‘It was a very good stage today,’ said Boasson Hagen. ‘The team did well to keep me in front at all the important moments. I was feeling fine all stage and pretty good over all the cobble sectors. I was able to always stay in the first group and I thought in the end Giant would ride to have a sprint for Degenkolb but that didn’t happen.
‘With Martin ahead I thought I would start the sprint early to have even the smallest chance of victory because my legs were still good, but we were not going to win the stage but I had to try. I am happy though and I am feeling really good at the moment.’
Said fellow MTN-Qhubeka rider Reinardt Janse van Rensburg: ‘Very happy for BH for taking 5th place today for us. Hope to improve in the next few days.’
The tour has now ridden through three countries since starting in Netherlands, moving into Belgium and yesterday crossing into France for the first time.
MTN-Qhubeka have slipped to 14th spot in the team standings, 13:33 behind BMC Racing Team.
Wednesday’s fifth stage features a 189.5km ride from Arras to Amiens Metropole and although largely flat, experts reckon that if any sort of wind gets up it could be crucial to the race dynamics.
Some interesting data from Tuesday’s fourth stage, as supplied by Dimension Data
13.3 km – total distance riders had to cover on cobblestones today.
3 700 m – the longest stretch of cobblestone in the stage; taking riders from Fountaine-au-Tertre to Quiévy.
192 – the amount of riders that started today’s stage.
47.3 km/h – average speed of the Peloton as they approached the first of six narrow cobbled roads.
26.89 km/h – the average speed of Nibali (AST) over the 1500 m Saint-Python cobblestones.
55.71 km/h – speed at front of the Peloton as they approached the 30 km mark, just before the second last and longest cobbled road.
74.8 km/h – top speed of Nibali (AST) in the last 10 kilometres.
58.28 km/h – average speed of Froome (SKY) in last kilometre.
40.38 km/h – the average speed on the stage.
58.28 km/h – average speed of lead group in last kilometre.
07:03 – the time gap between the first and last rider.