Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen took on Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France today. Though HTC-Columbia's Cavendish got the win in Montargis, Boasson Hagen is showing to be gaining experience with his challenge for the win.
"He's not a pure sprinter, but if he's got clear air in front of him he's very strong for a long time," said Sky's team manager, David Brailsford. "The sprints haven't gone the way people would have expected them to, but that's two thirds in a row, he's sprinting well."
Cavendish appeared to start his sprint early on the slight uphill into Montargis and for a moment it appeared that he would lose to Sky's young star. Despite missing out to Cavendish and Gerald Ciolek, Boasson Hagen held on to finish ahead of other accomplished sprinters: fellow Norwegian Thor Hushovd, Alessandro Petacchi and Tyler Farrar.
The young rider, at 23 years old, in fact helped complete a top four of under 25 riders today. His placings at the Tour de France also add to his wins last year in Ghent-Wevelgem, at 21 years old, and the Tour of Britain, at 22 years old
"He's a guy for the future, there's absolutely no pressure on him from the team," Brailsford continued. "We just wanted to bring him here for experience. It goes without saying he'll be a green jersey contender in the future."
Sky is fighting for the yellow jersey this year with Brad Wiggins. His quest demands the concentration of the whole team, but 'Eddy' was allowed two men for today's and yesterday's sprint: Juan Antonio Flecha and Geraint Thomas.
"He will only get better in this Tour de France," said Wiggins.
"It's hard to imagine in ten year's time where Edvald will be in this sport. At this stage in his career he could go either way. He could almost be a bit like a Laurent Jalabert, go for the GC or sprints. Already he is showing that he can pretty much do anything."
Boasson Hagen may look to try again tomorrow, but for sure he will have to switch to domestique duties for Wiggins this weekend, when the Tour de France enters the high-mountains.
He kept a cool head after his placing and looks ahead - like Brailsford said - to the future.
"It's hard to say if I'm getting stronger," Boasson Hagen explained, "but I feel quite strong in the sprint."
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Cavendish strikes back in Tour de France
Thomas happy with Tour's white jersey; but says 'All for Brad'
Wiggins crashes on Tour stage start
Cavendish and Farrar return to top
Cavendish keeps up fight for first Tour win
Sky delivers Boasson Hagen to third without pressure
Thomas in tour's white jersey; Wiggins gains time
Evans and Schleck gain in Tour's hell of the north
The Feed Zone: Tour news and views (July 6)
Vande Velde abandons Tour following crash
Andy Schleck has a laugh after stage two crash
The Feed Zone: News and views (July 5)
Sky banks on Thomas ahead of cobbled stage
Cavendish's sprint train weakened with Hansen out
Armstrong under fire as Landis allegations reach mainstream
Team Sky's decision to put Wiggins off early back fires
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special
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