Edvald Boasson-Hagen came tantalizingly close to a phenomenal win on the fifth stage, finally taking third place in the winning break.
A spectacular stage
The fifth stage of this Tour de France was eagerly awaited by both the riders and the fans. The organizers had devised a thrilling route which promised to be eventful and exciting. Dubbed a “mini Paris-Roubaix”, it had eleven cobbled sectors across 157 km.
Like every day of the Tour so far, this stage saw Magnus Cort Nielsen initiate the first attacks. A number of riders volunteered for places in the breakaway, which eventually formed a six-man group: Edvald Boasson Hagen, Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Simon Clarke (Israel Premier Tech), Neilson Powless (EF EDuaction-Easypost) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B-KTM). At the 75 km point, they had a maximum lead of 4’15’’.
Crashes in the peloton
The peloton started to get nervous as the first cobbles approached. Peter Sagan and Anthony Turgis were both involved in a crash during a series of crashes and mechanical problems. This really is the hell of the North. But hell is just a euphemism for Daniel Oss. Our Italian rider crashed after hitting a roadside spectator. Despite the crash, he managed to complete the stage before being taken to hospital in Lille, where further examinations revealed a fracture to a cervical vertebra. He will sadly be forced to abandon the Tour.
Victory within arm’s reach for Edvald Boasson-Hagen
Back on the race, the break, including Edvald Boasson-Hagen, was still nurturing hopes of a win. Under the red flag, the group was down to four, with Neilson Powless in the lead. Edvald Boasson-Hagen then launched his attack, overtaking the American, before being caught by Simon Clarke and Taco Van Der Hoorn in the final 500 meters. The Norwegian finally claimed third place, with the Australian Simon Clarke scraping a narrow victory.
“It was hard when Powless attacked near the line,” said Edvald Boasson-Hagen. “Nobody seemed to want to chase him. So I went for it, hoping that I could catch up. But on the last stretch, with the headwind, things got difficult. It’s a shame, they came up too fast behind me. I’m disappointed with the final result but, despite that, I’m happy to have spent the day out in front.”