MTN – Qhubeka’s Edvald Boasson Hagen took victory at the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain in London on Sunday, becoming the first rider to take two race victories in the modern era of the event.
But British fans were wowed by Owain Doull who took the Chain Reaction Points jersey, the Premier Inn Best of British jersey and third place on general classification.
It was a superb performance from the Team Wiggins rider, recently named as part of the Great Britain Cycling Team under-23 squad for the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, USA later in September.
Boasson Hagen, who won back in 2009, took the yellow jersey on stage five to Hartside and held on to clinch the win ahead of Team Sky’s Woet Poels.
Stage victory went to Elia Viviani, promoted to first place after Andre Greipel was judged to have blocked the Italian in the final sprint.
The 86.8-kilometre race through London’s iconic landmarks saw a blistering start, Team Wiggins stringing the group out in an early attempt to elevate Doull to a podium position on general classification, with bonus seconds available at three intermediate sprints on laps three, six and nine.
The ploy immediately bore fruit, Doull’s general classification rival Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) getting it all wrong come the prime, allowing the Cardiff man to move into third place in the virtual standings by a single second.
The Doull subplot also meant that Pete Williams (One Pro Cycling), who wrapped up the mountains jersey the previous day, also took the sprints jersey without having to contest the gallop, an admirable achievement amid world-class opposition.
Immediately after the first sprint the breaks began to ebb and flow, robbing Guldhammer of a chance to reclaim his general classification position at the second sprint.
Eventually a combination managed to make progress, containing 2014 race winner and general classification danger man Dylan van Baarle (Team Cannondale Garmin) along with Danilo Wyss (BMC) Juraj Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo), Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis), Ian Bibby (NFTO), Karol Domagalski (Raleigh GAC), Koen Bouwman (Lotto NL - Jumbo) and Richard Handley (JLT Condor).
The eight men built a lead of 19 seconds as the race approached the final intermediate sprint and were still away at the line, helping Doull tighten his grip on third place overall.
Knowing that the teams of the sprinters would soon begin to organise themselves behind, the break pressed on but Team Sky began to show themselves at the front of the peloton, in an effort to reel in the escapees and set up a bunch sprint for Viviani, who missed out on his third stage win the previous day by the narrowest of margins.
Boasson Hagen’s MTN – Qhubeka team also shared the work, with the Norwegian keen to keep out of trouble.
With a lap and half to go, the break was finally reeled in, only for British circuit champion Bibby and Wyss to launch a counter-attack.
Bibby was soon caught followed by the BMC rider, with Team Wiggins joining Team Sky at the front of the bunch, British road champion Peter Kennaugh taking the bell for the final lap.
As the lap wore on, the red jerseys of Lotto Soudal began to show themselves, hoping to double their tally of stage victories after Andre Greipel’s win into Ipswich.
Wiggins applied the pressure as the race reached its climax, depositing Doull near the front, the Welshman still needing to keep Gulhammer behind him to clinch third overall.
With the line approaching Greipel powered into the lead with Viviani coming through on the left close to the barriers. The German moved left forcing Viviani to take evasive action, Greipel crossing the line first, followed by the Italian and Movistar’s Juan Jose Lobato.
However a commissaires’ enquiry ensued and minutes later Andre Greipel was relegated, Viviani judged the stage victor.
Meanwhile Doull had done enough to clinch third place overall, a second ahead of Guldhammer, also claiming the Chain Reaction Points Jersey ahead of Boasson Hagen by a single point.
Alex Peters ended the race as Great Britain Cycling Team's best-placed rider, an excellent 12th overall, one minute and 19 seconds behind Boasson Hagen.