Edvald Boasson Hagen has succeeded Greg Van Avermaet and Manuel Quinziato by winning in Geraardsbergen. The Norwegian champion took his ninth victory this season after a tense finale.
After finishing fourth in Bolsward and eighth in Lanaken, Boasson Hagen finally managed to get his win and he did it in style in Geraarsbergen, a town steeped in cycling mythology.
"I felt really strong and came here to fight for the overall victory, but we lost too much time in the team trial," the Dimension Data rider said. "This stage win makes up for it. Winning on a mythical place like the Muur, that's just fantastic. The rain made it very tough with slippery cobbles, so I tried to stay in the front as much as possible."
At the end the Norwegian beat Dutchman Niki Terpstra and Belgian Oliver Naesen for the victory. "That Belgian was very strong," Boasson Hagen said. "I tried to save as much energy as possible for the final kilometre. Maybe the sprint looked easy, but it certainly wasn't. I had to go all the way and didn't want to look back."
In three weeks from now Qatar will host the world championships. Boasson Hagen seems to be ready to perform in the Gulf state. "In that kind of race anything is possible. My last victory was a while ago, so this gives me a lot of confidence for Qatar."