Great Britain's team Sky took its first Tour de France stage win today via Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen. The team has only been racing for one and a half years, but its leader Bradley Wiggins saw it coming.
"It does not feel like a big shock, I guess we sort of expected it," Wiggins told Cycling Weekly.
"We are kind of in a perfect position, and with the year we had as team, it's no surprise."
Boasson Hagen jumped ahead in the final kilometres of the 226.6-kilometre leg in France's north, from Dinan to Lisieux. The wind and rain coming in from the English Channel made the task harder, but it also enabled the 24-year-old to have his chance.
Sprinters Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar were not in the mix. Boasson Hagen won ahead of Milan-San Remo winner, Matt Goss (HTC), and World Champion and race leader, Norway's Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo).
Sky welcomed the win after the criticism it faced at the end of last year. Critics said the team put too much money into the sport given its results. At the Tour, Wiggins finished a disappointing 24th after a surprise fourth in 2009.
This year, Wiggins and Sky re-tuned their approach, which paid off. Wiggins placed third in Paris-Nice, won the TT stage at Bayern-Rundfahrt, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the British championships, both the road and time trial titles. His team-mates, as with Boasson Hagen today, have also been winning.
"We've changed it around this year," added Wiggins. "With the year we had, it's certainly better than the first year. The first year was always going to be like that - a first year."
Wiggins sits sixth overall as the race heads south to the first high-mountain stages. The win today, will lessen the pressure for him and Sky.
"It relaxes the team to get a result in the first week of the Tour."
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Stannard begins Sky's perfect day by taking Tour of Austria stage win
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1