Edvald Boasson Hagen powers to home win at Tour of Norway
Last Updated: 19/05/13 4:07pm
Edvald Boasson Hagen: Unstoppable in his home town of Lillehammer
Edvald Boasson Hagen pulled out a stunning performance on home ground to win stage four at the Tour of Norway and claim the race lead.
The Norwegian fired clear over the top of the Kinnshaugen climb and linked up with Sergio Paulinho (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) on the run back into the centre of Lillehammer.
A tense chase ensued with 12 riders linking up to close down the plucky pair, but with a slender gap stabilising it was left to Boasson Hagen to kick again in the final kilometre, riding to an immensely popular solo victory by 11 seconds.
With overnight race leader Alexander Kristoff losing contact after a fierce pace had been set by Team Sky, the win moved Boasson Hagen into a 27-second race lead over Paulinho with one stage remaining.
After stepping off the podium after pulling on both the yellow leader's jersey and the green of points leader, Boasson Hagen said: "It's an amazing feeling to win here again. The team did a really good job today in controlling things from the start.
"After they'd done all the work other teams began attacking me and I decided to go by myself on the way to the finish. I'd planned to do that this morning and I wanted to try and either arrive alone or have someone to ride with. Everything went to plan."
The Norwegian national champion also paid tribute to the incredible support shown by the fans during the stage, comparing the reception to the biggest race of them all.
"It's like the Tour de France. It is amazing that so many people come out to watch the race and cheer for me.
"There are more climbs tomorrow and it will be really hard. We need to keep focussed for one more day and hopefully I can stay in the yellow and green jerseys tomorrow."
The longest and toughest stage of the race saw the peloton tackle 198km and played out around Boasson Hagen's hometown of Lillehammer, the scene of a similar victory 12 months earlier.
Six riders went clear early on and were quickly joined by the leader of the mountains classification Sander Cordeel (Lotto-Belisol). The gap spun out to 7:30 as rain began to fall once again on the race. Bauke Mollema (Blanco Cycling) was the first of the big names to make a move but the Dutchman's long-range effort was hauled back ahead of the finale.
With the peloton thinning out under pressure from Team Sky, second time over the climb, and with Kristoff finally dislodged, Boasson Hagen attacked.
Burying himself alongside Paulinho the chase behind finally faltered, putting the local favourite in the box seat for a repeat race victory.