Dimension Data's Edvald Boasson Hagen said that he didn't intend to block Elia Viviani's sprinting line on stage two of the Tour of Britain after he had his win rescinded.
The Dimension Data rider was adjudged to have strayed left into the Team Sky rider’s path at the finish in Blyth, the jury returning their verdict to make Viviani the stage winner more than 45 minutes after the race’s climax and Boasson Hagen having been presented as the stage winner and new race leader on the podium.
Viviani visibly vented his anger at the Norwegian’s sprint in the immediate aftermath of the finish, and indicated that his decision to lodge an appeal had been made up before he had even crossed the finish.
“When we started the sprint I had a lot of space – half the road was free,” the Italian said.
“And then when I went, I seen him come straight from the left and in that moment I really didn’t have the space to pass him.
“I stopped pedalling, restarted the sprint and I was really focused to finish second because I knew something was wrong in the sprint and then, yeah, the jury did their job and took this decision.
“He said sorry to me straight away. He said he had his head down and he didn’t see where he was going but from my point of view he came in on my line and I couldn’t really pass him.”
“I tried to apologise but we haven’t really spoken much,” Boasson Hagen said. “I was just sprinting for the line. I looked down and I know I went over to the left and it was really not on purpose to try to block anyone, and I did, so I’m really sorry for what I did there. But it’s a pity to lose the victory and the bonus seconds for GC.
“Viviani was really not happy when he crossed the line and I expected him to try and protest. Then I thought it was done and not on the podium so it’s a pity to not have the victory but I’m sorry for what I did to Viviani.
“I thought the team did a really good job today and we just have to keep fighting tomorrow. That’s just how it is.”
Despite losing bonus seconds he thought he had accrued, Boasson Hagen is still aiming to become only the first rider to win three editions of the race.
He said: “That’s my goal [GC] and we’ll try to do our best here. We lost some good seconds today that it would’ve been nice to have as a bonus but we just have to keep fighting.”
Viviani believes that the 16km time trial in Clacton on Thursday limits the chance of overall success for the sprinters, except Boasson Hagen or someone like his ilk.
Viviani said: “I think a guy like Eddy can win because he already has seven seconds from yesterday and tomorrow is a little bit uphill finish and maybe some sprinters will be dropped – me too – and he can take bonus seconds again. So I think a sprinter like him can win the GC.”