The Tour of Norway could not have got off to a better start for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and Edvald Boasson Hagen, as our Norwegian Champion won the opening stage on his birthday. Boasson Hagen beat Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) in the sprint for the line.
The opening stage of the Tour of Norway took riders on a 170km trip from Honefoss to Asker. There were numerous undulations throughout the stage with a final drag all the way to the line finish as well. The stage suited our Norwegian Champion to a tee and most of the rival teams were looking to our African Team to make the decisive moves.
With only three riders going up the road, it made things slightly easier to control for our African Team and we worked together with a few other World Tour teams to ensure the leaders were brought back before reaching the finishing circuit in Asker. The attacks came thick and fast over the final 25km and we kept it together as best we could before young Ben O’Connor had a go in the final 10km.
With O’Connor up the road Boasson Hagen could sit back and let the other teams chase, which they did do. O’Connor’s move was brought back just before the line and then our Norwegian Champion did the rest by sprinting to a special win. With the stage victory, Boasson Hagen also pulled on the overall race leaders jersey as well. The victory was made ever sweeter by the fact that Omar Fraile had also just won stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia minutes earlier.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
“Wow, what a great day it is for the team. Here in Norway we had a special final, we knew it would be a sprint but it was all uphill. Teams like Orica had good options for today so we didn’t want to take responsibility too early. We let the break go and when they got to 8-minutes, Cannondale, Orica and our guys all started working to reduce the gap. Ben was in a tricky move in the final and he was only caught with 2km to go. This was good for us though because guys like Mekseb Debesay … could prepare Edvald for the sprint.”