Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-HTC) took his third victory in as many days of the 2009 Tour of Britain Wednesday, as the 134km stage 5 finished in a tough uphill sprint in Stoke On Trent.
The Norwegian took a 10-second time bonus for winning the stage and replaced Kai Reus (Rabobank) as race leader. The Dutch rider was one of the first to congratulate Boasson Hagen after he crossed the finish line. Boasson Hagen leads Reus by nine seconds going into the tough West Country stages on Thursday and Friday where the gaps on the general classification are expected to expand. Chris Sutton (Garmin Slipstream) lies third at 14 seconds.
The tough conditions saw many riders roll in over fifteen minutes behind the race winner. The day was marked by a brave breakaway attempt. Dan Fleeman (Cervelo Test Team) , Alan Marangoni (CSF Navigare) and Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor) had moved into the lead after the first sprint of the day at Stone which was won by Martin Reimer (Cervelo Test Team). Former French champion Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) took off in pursuit and it took the talented Frenchman 30km to catch the leaders with the quartet holding a lead of over five minutes over the bunch at one stage.
Columbia put the hammer down on the front of the bunch and the crosswinds near the finish saw many riders lose contact. The leaders were finally swept up with one kilometre to go. Maxime Monfort (Columbia-HTC) led out Boasson Hagen on the uphill sprint which he he won ahead of Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Russell Downing (CandiTV-Marshalls).
Thomas De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen) still leads in the sprint and mountains competition, and the Belgian still had enough strength in his legs to pick up more points in both today.
Boasson Hagen also nudged his way into the points jersey.