Edvald Boasson Hagen took Team Sky's first ever Tour de France stage in Liseaux today, sprinting away from Matt Goss (HTC) and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cérvelo) in the final few hundred metres.
It was the first ever win in the Tour for a British registered team, and 42 years since Barry Hoban won for the British national squad in Sallanches, in 1968.
Geraint Thomas provided a brilliant lead out for his Norweigan team mate, covering the moves in the final kilometre as Boasson Hagen sat comfortably on his wheel. He eventually kicked with around 200 metres to go, putting daylight between him and his rivals. Hushovd never made an impression on his countryman while Goss left his effort too late.
The final sprint came atop a short but steep ninety metre climb that shed the race's pure sprinting talents. It proved too selective for the likes of Mark Cavendish (HTC), who rolled in over a minute behind the winners.
It was a reduced peloton of sixty-two riders who galloped for the line, which included most of the big GC names. Levi Leipheimer was the only one to lose time after hitting the deck inside the last five kilometers. He ended the stage one minute six seconds down.
No one team controlled the sprint for the line, with many of those who were prominent at yesterday's uphill finish once again in contention. José Rojas (Movistar) finished fourth, with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) seventh.
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) launched an attack with two kilometers to go. He quickly gained one hundred metres advantage on the peloton, but didn't have the strength to hold it over the climb.
Boasson Hagen had looked strong yesterday, attacking inside the final kilometer the day's stage. That surge proved fruitless, but in retrospect provided a clue to the form that he showed today. He held his sprint impressively, and crossed the line with half a bike length between himself and his pursuers.
It was a good day for Norway, with Hushovd finishing third and keeping his yellow jersey too.
Victories came in twos for Team Sky today as well, with Ian Stannard taking the Tour of Austria's fifth stage.
Most of the stage was raced through driving rain and, with the finishing kilometers winding through Liseaux, there were fears that slippery conditions would cause problems. Ironically the finish was, in that respect, a damp squib, with the sun coming out for the first time towards the end and the stage finishing incident-free.
After yesterday's crash-strewn stage, today's was positively tame. Leipheimer's unfortunate incident, in which he slipped on some wet road-markings, was the only one worthy of note.
The early move included breakaway enthusiast Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), who was present in the stage four breakaway. He was joined by Anthony Roux (FdJ), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil).
They built up a lead of over ten minutes by the stage's first climb and, Malori, the group's last representative to be swallowed by the peloton, stayed clear until the five kilometer mark.
Hoogerland's second day of escape ultimately proved fruitful, however, as he picked up two and one King of the Mountain points atop the day's first two, category three, climbs. They are enough for him to take the polka dot jersey from the shoulders of Cadel Evans (BMC).
Cavendish beats rivals to intermediate sprint
The day's intermediate sprint came after one hundred and thirty one kilometers and, with the first five spots taken by the break, Cavendish was first to cross the line. He picked up ten points for his sixth spot, and led Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cérvelo) and José Rojas over the line in seventh and eighth. Gilbert finished tenth to pick himself up six further points.
Gilbert remains in the green jersey, with Rojas second - but only by one point. Cavendish sits in fifth, fifty points behind the Belgian.
Tour de France 2011, stage six: Dinan - Lisieux, 226.5km
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky 5-13-37
2. Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo
4. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil
5. Jose Rojas (Esp) Movistar
6. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto
8. Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quick Step
9. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
10. Arnold Jeanesson (Fra) FDJ
16. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
47. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo
56. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky all at same time
101. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad at 1-44 min
106. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at same time
General Classification after stage six
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo 22-50-34
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1 sec
3. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek at 4 sec
4. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at 8 sec
5. Andréas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack at 10 sec
6. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky at 10 sec
7. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 12 sec
8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek
10. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard_Trek all at same time
62. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 3-50
80. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad at 6-06
Geraint Thomas - best young rider, and ace lead-out man
Bradley Wiggins wraps up
Leonardo Duque drives the early break
Race leader Thor Hushovd gets some assistance
Cadel Evans in the polka dot jersey
The rain was never far away during stage six
Edvald Boasson Hagen celebrates his - and Team Sky's - first Tour win
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
Cavendish's race for the Tour green jersey
Cavendish surprises with Tour stage win and press conference
How is Ben Swift's first Tour de France going?
Farrar's Tour gamble pays off
Cavendish loses two sprints in one stage
Wiggins off to ideal Tour start
Sky at the Tour team time trial photo special
Vaughters' Garmin-Cervelo team hits cycling's top
Tour GC contenders: the winners and losers after stage one
Already in white, can Geraint Thomas take yellow?
Evans jumps ahead in Tour opener
Tour team time trial training
Cavendish's train must adapt to win Tour stages
Pro predictions: Who will win opening Tour stage?
Tour de France teams presented, Contador booed
Tour de France 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Tour de France 2011: Official start list
Tour de France 2011: Who's riding?
Tour de France 2011: Team guide
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Stage five: Cavendish wins in Cap Frehel
Stage four: Evans edges out Contador on the Mur-de-Bretagne
Stage three: Farrar sprints to first Tour victory in Redon
Stage two: Garmin win team time trial to put Hushovd in yellow
Stage one: Gilbert blasts to victory as Tour gets off to spectacular start
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Video: The rise of Philippe Gilbert at the Tour
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011 team time trial training photo gallery by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team press conferences by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011 team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011 LIVE: CW's text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini's 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: Archive articles1999 Tour de France stage two: Passage du Gois causes chaos
Tour de France 2011: TV schedule
British Eurosport Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
ITV4 Tour de France 2011 TV schedule
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Older news items
Cavendish to start all three grand tours in 2011
2011 Tour de France teams named
Tour de France 2011: Route details
The mountains of the 2011 Tour de France
Cavendish challenging for up to eight stages in 2011 Tour
Wiggins and Team Sky confident but not talking of Tour podium
Contador faces tough questions in pre-Tour press conference
Brits in the Tour de France 2011
UCI and AFLD collaborate on Tour de France dope tests
Contador confirmed for Tour de France
Evans set for Tour de France win
UCI says 'respect Contador at Tour de France'
Contador confirms taking part in Tour de France
Bookies slash odds on Wiggins winning Tour
Halfords launches free Garmin Tour de France fantasy game
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