Tour of Britain: Drama as original winner of Northumberland stage penalised

Elia Viviani, right, and Edvald Boasson Hagen, centre, at the finish in Blyth. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Elia Viviani, right, and Edvald Boasson Hagen, centre, at the finish in Blyth. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Team Sky’s Elia Viviani was awarded victory on stage two of the Tour of Britain after Edvald Boasson Hagen was stripped of his win in a controversial finish in Blyth.

Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), beaten in a photo finish on day one, crossed the line in Blyth first on Monday but suffered more heartache as he was relegated for irregular sprinting.

Boasson Hagen had put on the leader’s green jersey on the podium before the decision was made.

Viviani had gestured to the Norwegian after crossing the line in second, feeling he had been impeded and – over 40 minutes after the stage finished – it was confirmed the Italian had won and taken the green jersey.

Boasson Hagen, a two-time Tour of Britain winner, had been released by lead-out man Mark Renshaw with just under 200 metres left of the 211km route and held off the challenge of Viviani and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

But Viviani and Groenewegen both immediately appeared to complain that Boasson Hagen deviated from his line.

"I was feeling really good yesterday, but I was disappointed as the guys did a perfect job yesterday on a very technical finish and I finished only third,” said Viviani.

"I really wanted to win today and we did a really good leadout with Kwiato, Kiry, G and Tao - who worked all day. Owain put me on Boasson Hagen's wheel in the final which was perfect and what we talked about this morning in our meeting, to be in second or third place going into the sprint.

"All the team deserve this win and I hope to win again in the next few days too."

Boasson Hagen was conciliatory after the finish, acknowledging that he had unintentionally moved across on the run to the line.

"I know that I closed in Viviani but it wasn't on purpose”, he said. "I was just sprinting for the line with my head down and when I looked up, I was too close on the left side with Viviani on my inside. It's really a pity after all the hard work the guys did today. However, we will keep fighting and try to go for it again tomorrow.”

It was an exciting end to a day’s racing that had settled down quickly as a seven-man break formed early on after leaving Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis) attacked solo from the break with 20km left as the riders passed Blyth for the first time. The remnants of the break were soon caught but Holmes continued on his own until he too was swept up with under 14km to go.

Philippe Gilbert, a stage winner at all three grand tours in his career, tried his luck with a solo attack but with 5km to go it was all brought back together.

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