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After several frustrating days, Boasson Hagen narrowly edged Enger out in a close sprint from a small group on stage 4 of the Tour of Norway; Weening retained his overall lead on the eve of the final stage

Photo: Sirotti














21.05.2016 @ 18:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After three failures, local hero Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) finally got the much awaited stage victory at the Tour of Norway when he came out on top in stage 4 of the race. Having made it into a small group on the late climb, he narrowly held off Sondre Holst Enger (Norway) in a close sprint while Pieter Weening (Roompot) retained the lead on the eve of the final stage.


With two overall victories and numerous stage wins, Edvald Boasson Hagen was the overwhelming favourite for the Tour of Norway. However, the race has been a frustrating experience for the national champion who has been a marked man in the first three stages of the race.


Boasson Hagen completely missed out in the bunch sprint on stage 1 and he failed to go with Pieter Weening on the final climb in the queen stage. The Norwegian was left frustrated as nobody wanted to cooperate with him in the final part and so he could see the Dutchman ride away with what is likely to be the overall victory.


Yesterday’s summit finish was always going to be too hard for Boasson Hagen so he was left with two chances to get that elusive stage win. Today things finally came together as he narrowly edged out his talented compatriot Sondre Holst Enger in a sprint from a small group on the tough fourth stage of the race.


After yesterday’s tough summit finish, the riders faced another tough challenge on stage 4 which brought the riders over 173.2km from Flå to Hønefoss. It was an almost completely flat course that had a nasty sting in its tail on the 11.8km finishing circuit that was covered thrice. It was mostly flat but included a 1.6km climb that averaged 5.4% and summited just 2.7km from the finish. From the top, it was a flat and exposed run to the line.


The 114 riders who reached the finish yesterday were present as the peloton rolled out under a partly cloudy sky. As in the first stages, it was a fast start with numerous attacks but this time the break went clear a bit earlier before the first intermediate sprint as no one tried to control things for the sprint points.


Six riders first got clear and when another rider had bridged the gap, it was Reinardt van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Yuma Koishi (Nippo), Richard Handley (ONE), Reidar Borgersen (Joker), Øyvind Lukkedal (Coop), Sindre Eid Hermansen (FixIT) and Trond Trondsen (Sparebanken) who had gathered to form a septet.


As race leader Pieter Weening and KOM leader Mads Pedersen (Stölting) both stopped for a natural break, the gap quickly went out to 3.39 at the 20km mark. Meanwhile, the escapees worked well together to increase their advantage and they didn’t contest the first intermediate sprint where Lukkedal led Koishi and Handley across the line.


Roompot took control in the peloton after a first hour during which 42km had been covered. At the 50km mark, they had allowed the gap to go out to 4.30.


That prompted the Norwegian national team to come to the fore and they took charge with Tobias Foss and Daniel Hoelgaard. At the 68km mark, they had reduced the gap to 4.15. Roompot were still working with Andre Looi and Ivar Slik and as they entered the final 100km, they had reduced the gap to 3.40.


The gap was still 3.40 as they passed through the feed zone and it had dropped to 3.20 at the 100km mark where light rain started to fall. At this point, more firepower had been added to the chase as Wanty and Tre Berg were now working with Looij, Slik, Hoelgaard and Foss.


The gap was slowly coming down and the escapees only had an advantage of 2.50 as they entered the final 60km. Here they contested the first intermediate sprint and it was Borgersen who led Handly and Koishi across the line.


The gap was no longer coming down and was still 2.40 as they approached the first passage of the key climb. Here the fight for position really started and it was the Norwegian national team that took complete control with Hoelgaard and Foss.


Unfortunately, a dog caused a crash for Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) and Andreas Vangstand (Sparebanken) just as they hit the climb. Here Sven Erik Bystrøm (Norway) attacked hard after the hard work of his teammates had reduced the gap to 1.55.


The peloton almost came to a standstill and so the former U23 world champion quickly got a bigger gap. There were a few attacks from the continental teams but no one could get clear. Meanwhile, Hermansen was dropped from the break.


Bystrøm opened a 30-second advantage which he hung onto for most of the first lap of the circuit. A Delko rider had briefly tried to escape but at the first passage of the line, it was Greg Henderson who had taken control for Lotto Soudal.


Koishi was the next rider to get dropped from the break and he was quickly passed by Bystrøm. However, the Norwegian was now losing ground and was only 10 seconds ahead as he passed Hermansen.


When Henderson cracked, LottoNL-Jumbo started to chase hard with Victor Campenaerts and he brought the former U23 world champion back with 27km to go. At this point, the escapees had managed to push the gap out to 2 minutes.


Campenaerts kept riding on the front until they hit the climb for the second time where Kristoffer Skjerping (Norway) took off. Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) and Carl Fredrik Hagen (Sparebanken) joined the move and the trio had a solid advantage as they reached the top. A little earlier, Trondsen had beaten Lukkedal, van Rensburg and Handley in the KOM sprint .


Roompot started to chase hard in the flat section leading to the finish. The trio was brought back just as Anders Skaarseth (Joker) had made contact at the finish line but the Norwegian was quick to make a counterattack. As Roompot were not too worried by him, he got an immediate gap, starting the penultimate lap 1.20 behind the front quintet.


Wanty started to chase hard with Mark McNally and Simone Antonini. Campenaerts quickly took over and even though Skaarseth dug deep to maintain a 10-second gap, he was brought back with 16km to go.


Campenaerts swing off immediately and left it to Gert Dockx (Lotto Soudal) to lead the chase until Bystrøm took over for the national team. Linus Gerdemann (Stölting) was next when the former U23 world champion cracked but the gap was still 1.00 with 15km to go.


While Gerdemann went full gas on the front and split the peloton significantly, a crash brought down three riders, including one from Topsport Vlaanderen. Moments later Gerdemann swung off and as only 15 riders were left in the main group after the crash and the hard chase, the group came to a standstill with Youcef Reguigui patrolling the front as they hit the climb for the penultimate time.


This opened the door for a Sparebanken rider to attack but it was the next move from Marco Marcto (Wanty) that worked. Together with Markus Hoelgaard (Joker), he quickly got a solid advantage.


Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) bridged the gap while a Caja Rural rider failed in his attempt to do the same. Further back, Roompot took time to regroup around Weening and then started to chase.


After the top of the climb, Borgersen tried to escape from the front group but he was brought back befoe they crossed the finish line. The chase trio arrived 45 seconds later while Huub Duijn, Mauirits Lammertink and Weening led the peloton 9 seconds further adrift.


With 7km to go, the gaps were 35 seconds and 45 seconds respectively and while Hoelgaard surged clear from the chase group, Duijn cracked in the peloton. Instead, the national team hit the front with Skjerping who worked hard to set Enger up for victory.


Duijn got back on the front and brought Marzaynski and Marcato back as they entered the final 6km 45 seconds behind the front quintet. Lammertink quickly took over and then Skjerping again came to the fore as they went under the 5km to go banner.


Impressively, Hoelgaard was approaching the leaders and with 4.5km to, he was just 10 seconds behind. The peloton was also getting closer as they had reduced their deficit to just 30 seconds.


Hoelgaard made the junction with 4km to go and immediately asked his teammate Borgersen to go full gas for him. However, their advantage had been reduced to 20 seconds as they hit the climb for the final time.


Trondsen set the pace in the lower slopes before Lukkedal came to the fore. However, their gap was melting away as Lammetink was going full gas in the peloton.


Hoelgaard was the first to attack but instead it was his teammate Borgeren who got clear. Only van Rensburg could keep up with the Norwegian TT specialist and the rest of the group was quickly swallowed up by the peloton.


As the catch was made, Odd Christain Eiking moved to the front for the national team, working hard for Enger who was looking strong in fourth position. That acceleration spelled the end for the front duo which was brought back with 2km to go.


Eiking kept riding on the front, followed by Weening, Enger, Boasson Hagen, Michael Schwarzmann, Paul Martens, Marcato, Marco Minnaard and Sander Armee, with a small 12-rider group getting clear as they reached the top. However, the Norwegian didn’t get any help as he hit the flat roads and so a rider managed to rejoin the group as they passed the flamme rouge.


Enger and Basson Hagen stayed in third and fourth position while Martens moved into fifth as they passed the flamme rouge. Eiking stayed on the front until Boasson Hagen launched a long sprint. The Norwegian champion immediately got a big gap as only Enger could follow. The youngster tried to come around and was moving up on the left-hand side. However, he ran out of metres and so Boasson Hagen finally got the elusive stage win. Martens took third.


Weening finished safely in the group and so retained his lead but the bonus seconds allowed Enger to reduce the advantage to 39 seconds. The Dutchman now just needs to get safely through the relatively easy final stage. It takes place on mostly flat roads that only includes an early category 3 climb. It ends with two laps of a 13.5km finishing circuit that has a small category 3 climb (1km, 5.7%) just 7.3km from the line. From there, it is a downhill run to the final 800m which are uphill at 3.5-4%.



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