Published: 1 July 2012
Report: Team Sky
Great Britain and Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins remained second in the hunt for the yellow jersey after stage 1 of the Tour de France, as Fabian Cancellara stayed top of the general classification.
Slovakian Peter Sagan took his first ever stage, coming out on top on the uphill and technical finish to the 198-kilometres stage from Liege to Seraing as Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) took second place.
Cancellara attacked a third of the way up the final 2.4km ascent to the finish, with only Sagan initially able to go with him.
But Boasson Hagen bridged the gap and the trio were clear with 500m to go, before Sagan landed the spoils and a first Tour stage win of his career.
Bradley Wiggins remains seven seconds behind Cancellara in the general classification, after he negotiated the final climb well to finish alongside defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) on the same time as the front three.
Evans moved up from 13th to eighth overall, but remains 17 seconds behind Cancellara and 10 adrift of Wiggins.
Not quite so fortunate was team-mate and British Cycling Podium Programme rider Chris Froome who suffered a puncture in the last 10km and, despite battling hard and with the assistance of team-mate Richie Porte, crossed the line in 95th, 1:25 down.
Team Sports Director Sean Yates reflected on a tough stage which saw some unfortunate time-loss for Froome.
He said: “Bradley was able to stay out of trouble which was the main thing today. It was good to see Edvald up there to take a good result at the finish.
“Froomey was unlucky to puncture just at the wrong moment as we hit the waterfront along the river. It was lined out going 70k an hour. Richie waited along with Christian. By the time they came back to the convoy riders were getting shelled. It was not possible to get back on. Riders were all over the place.
Meanwhile Cancellara tops the green jersey standings by six points from Sagan, while world champion Mark Cavendish picked up his first points of the race at the intermediate sprint.
He collected eight points after being the second member of the peloton over the line with 81.5km to go, with Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) just ahead of him.
Yohann Gene (Europcar) had led a six-man breakaway group at the intermediate sprint to claim 20 points, with Pablo Urtasun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun), Maxime Bouet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) also in the day's big escape.
They had gone clear from the off and, despite being held up by a level crossing after 24km, they were able to extend their advantage to just under five minutes.
However with RadioShack-Nissan controlling the chase the gap came down rapidly in the closing stages and they were caught with just under 10km remaining.
BMC Racing and Orica-GreenEDGE then both moved to the fore late on but the first big attack off the front came from Chavanel with 2km to go.
He was soon reeled in and it was the next counter-attack from Cancellara which proved to be the defining move as he, Sagan and Boasson Hagen took centre stage.
Results - Stage 1: Liège - Seraing 198km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
16. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
95. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
128. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
155. David Millar (GBr) Garmin Sharp
168. Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team
General classification after stage 1
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 5:05:32
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:13
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
84. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
106. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
144. David Millar (GBr) Garmin Sharp
158. Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team