Edvald Boasson Hagen carried the torch for Team Sky in last year's Tour de France after Bradley Wiggins was forced out with injury.
But with the team again focusing on Wiggins this year, the Norwegian champion has to pick his moments if he is to get his chance of Tour glory. In the race's first road stage to Seraing today he did exactly that and was able to 'freestyle' off others and place third.
Boasson Hagen missed the wheels of Cancellara and Sagan when they escaped on the final climb, but put in a powerful burst to bridge the gap with 500m to go.
"He's in good shape, [the finish] suited him," Sky's general manager, David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. "Sagan positioned himself fantastically well and he went immediately when Fabian [Cancellara] went. By the time Eddy reacted, his opportunity had gone really, but his physical ability to bridge that was immense. Credit to him for being able to do to that."
The result comes 24 hours after Wiggins narrowly missed victory in the prologue time trial to Cancellara. Boasson Hagen was fifth. When the race heads into Tournai tomorrow Boasson Hagen will be expected to lead the sprint train for Cavendish's
"I wouldn't expect to see [Boasson Hagen] sprint for a stage tomorrow. We'll be looking to keep Mark well positioned and to keep Bradley out of trouble," Brailsford added.
Certain stages, however, suit Boasson Hagen's style. He won last year in Lisieux and Pinerolo thanks to his combination of staying power and sprinting.
"When it kicks up like that, all being well, I think he'll have his chance. We won't give him a full lead-out for it, but we will let him have the chance to do what he did today. Ultimately, he freestyled a little bit and he was there for the win, which was excellent."
After Wiggins and Boasson Hagen, the attention now turns to Cavendish and the Tour's first sprint stage, 207.5km from Visé to Tournai.
Tour de France 2012: Coverage index
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage one: Sagan wins stage at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
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